Nice NY Times Article On Parent Involvement — On Their Fashion Page!

It’s O.K. to Skip That Bake Sale is good article on parent involvement that strangely appears in the Fashion and Style section of The New York Times.

It provides recommendations from two key parent involvement researchers — Anne Henderson and Joyce Epstein — and the founder of KIPP charter schools. The tone of the article is good — it basically recognizes that not all parents can be expected to volunteer at school because of their other commitments. I was surprised to hear that from the KIPP founder, though. I know many charters require parent volunteer hours. Good for KIPP if they do not. Can anyone confirm that?

Here are the three recommendations the writer shares:

1. Meet the Teacher. “The most important thing a parent should do is establish a relationship with their children’s teacher,” Ms. Henderson said. “That means getting in there, making sure the teacher knows who you are, and basically saying: ‘I’m here for you. I want to work with you over the course of the year to make sure my child does well.’ ” Teachers have higher expectations of students when they know their parents are involved, she added.

2. Ask good questions. While there’s no evidence parental involvement in schools increases a child’s performance, there’s abundant evidence that parental involvement at home does. That includes letting your children know you have high expectations, then following up with specific questions about what they’re studying in class. “Change the conversation from the ineffective ‘How was school today?’ which usually elicits a grunt and a half,” said Ms. Epstein, “to the more interesting ‘Tell me something interesting you learned in math today’ or ‘What are you doing in science?’ ” She recommended questions where the students are saying, showing or sharing what they’re learning.

3. Put your children to bed. Mr. Levin said the bigger problem plaguing schools these days is not lack of parental involvement, it’s the lack of student sleep. “Sleep is so critical,” he said. “Making sure kids go to bed on time, come to school on time, with their homework complete. If that’s something all parents committed to, I think schools would be very happy.”

I’m also not convinced the writer is correctly interpreting the research. Instead of saying that “there’s no evidence parental involvement in schools increases a child’s performance,” I believe the research finds that there is indeed evidence that provides this evidence, but that parent work with the child at home can have a greater impact.

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