“Why parents matter”

I’ve written several posts about some interesting sounding efforts by the Detroit schools to connect with parent. Unfortunately, all I know about what’s going on is what I read in the papers. I’d love to hear from someone on the ground there.

The head of the Detroit schools, Robert Bobb, and the leader of the parent group I’ve posted about, Sharlonda Buckman, have recently co-written a guest newspaper column titled Why Parents Matter.

Much of the column sounds good. However, I am troubled by the fact they lay-out goals that are wildly unrealistic. Here’s an excerpt:

By 2015, the district will increase from 31 percent of schools meeting Adequate Yearly Progress to 100 percent; the district will move from 58 percent of students graduating to 98 percent graduating; and the percentage of students being accepted to postsecondary institutions will jump from 35 percent to 100 percent.

I’m all for setting up ambitious goals. I love the story (that I’m probably butchering) that John F. Kennedy supposedly told about goal-setting…

A group of children were walking and met an an obstacle of very high bushes. Most were saying that there was no way they could go through it — they’d have to find another way. One of them threw his cap over to the other side. He said, “Now I have to find a way.”

Yes, it’s a great story. But the kid had a far more likely chance of getting to the other side than any district has of meeting those kinds of goals in five years.

It raises some questions in my mind about the judgment of school leaders there. But good luck to them.

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