Parental Involvement in Common Schools
There are all together six goals of a common school system, which I m going to discuss in details throughout my essay and also how parental involvement can help schools achieve these goals. The overall general goal of the system is to secure democracy. Thomas Jefferson argued that democracy required citizens to deliberate publicly and to use their reason to decide among competing ideas for guiding the nation. (Oakes & Lipton, 1999, P. 4) Jefferson believed that all children should be provided three years of schooling and that will ready them with citizenship, these three years will be focused on basic literacy-reading, writing, and math. In 1830s, Horace Mann argued all Americans should be educated in common schools that would complement what families taught their children at home. (Oakes & Lipton, 1999, P. 5) Common schools are later to be called what is known today as Public school, which means equal school, but schools today are not equal. Mann wanted common schools to teach knowledge and habits and basic literacy, those things are crucial for a citizen to function in a democracy.
As I have mentioned earlier there are six goals of a common school system. The first goal is to help preserve American culture. When schoolchildren first recited the Pledge of Allegiance on Columbus Day in 1892, their teachers were told to have students follow the Pledge by shouting, One Country! One Flag! One Language! (Oakes & Lipton, 1999, P. 6) Teachers are supposing to Americanize children of newcomers, teaching them about American culture and forming them to become an American. The second goal is to support economic stability. Schools were added social studies courses to the curriculum hoping that these courses might prepare students to tackle the social and economic problems of the time. The business sectors believe that the common school was key to the nation s economic life. (Oakes & Lipton, 1999, P. 7) The third goal is that the common school will ensure national security. Schools are able to teach students and find some elites and then we are able to compete with the other elites from the other countries. America is very capable of turning students into well-educated citizens with world-class science and mathematics skills. The fourth goal that the school system is trying to achieve is that they believe schools will solve social problems. The society has expected the common schools to help solve the social problems stemming from poverty, racism, inequality, urban decay, and the cultural unrest those conditions have brought. (Oakes & Lipton, 1999, P. 7) Teachers are responsible to teach children to stay out of drugs, prevent AIDS Ketc. Society expects a lot for a teacher and expects the teachers to teach the kids about everything. The fifth goal is the boost international competitiveness. Since America is an elite country it is being watched and being compared constantly, right now American schools are being looked down upon because here education is not pressured enough and does not have a whole lot of homework compared to some of the other countries where schools are seven days a week and that students will not get a break to watch TV or go to the movies because the teachers gives the students tons of homework. Finally the sixth goal is to pursue academic success for everyone. Schools are places for people to learn, people learn because they get smarter that way, they want to have a knowledge of what is going on in the world, schools are places where people learn and apply what they have learned to the world, to the economy.
I believe that parental involvements are very essential have the common schools achieved these six goals. Families can help their children both at home and at school. When families are involved in their children’s education in positive ways, children achieve higher grades and test scores, have better attendance at school, complete more homework, demonstrate more positive attitudes and behavior, graduate at higher rates, and have greater enrollment in higher education. Parents can emphasize good work habits, value learning and good character, set high expectations for their children, stay informed about their children’s progress, and monitor their children’s activities. For high school youth, parents can monitor homework and encourage participation in wholesome extracurricular activities, provide a sense of proportion to TV watching and video games, talk often to teachers, be active in parent-teacher associations, and help their children develop plans for careers and further education. What families do to help their children learn is more important to their academic success than how well off the family is. A national study of eighth-grade students and their parents show that parental involvement in students’ academic lives is indeed a powerful influence on students’ achievement across all academic areas. Higher achievement results, in part, from the increased amount of homework completed by students with families who are more involved in their education.
Recommendations for Parents:
Become informed about policies and programs
Parents need to learn about specific school policies and programs regarding parent involvement. Find out if programs have been implemented to support these policies and if there is a committee for reviewing school policies and practices in which parents can participate.
Be a decision-maker
This is an area where many parents have questions. For example, parents want to know if they should correct their child’s mistakes, or leave them so the teacher can see what the child has learned. Ask for specific guidance from your child’s teacher on how to oversee homework and support learning at home.
Have your voice heard
Few parents have opportunities to share their thoughts and feelings regarding school policies and practices. Suggest that the school conduct surveys and focus groups so that educators can better understand parents’ needs and feelings regarding school policies and practices.
Be your child’s advocate
Parents must assume an active role by immediately seeking out the support of teachers and administrators to help their child. This is especially true if you see a decline in your child’s grades or behavior that might indicate a serious problem.
Research shows that when parents have high expectations, children succeed in school. Let your child know that you value learning and that what happens in school is important. Show that you respect teachers as valued professionals who are helping students achieve important goals.
Have high expectations for your child’s school
Take a close look at your child’s school. As a parent, share with your child’s school the following recommendations on what every school should do.
Recommendations for Schools
Clarify how and why parents can be involved
Many parents don’t know how to initiate involvement in their children’s schools. Schools need to clarify the available opportunities for parents to become involved and how parent involvement can positively impact on their children. This can help parents become better-informed consumers and will allow them to more effectively allocate their time and resources.
Provide parents with positive feedback about their children
To most parents, calls from their children’s school indicate a problem. Schools should encourage teachers to let parents know when their children are doing well.
Build on existing parent involvement
Many parents attend back-to-school night and school programs in which their children perform. Schools need to build on these opportunities by making meaningful connections with parents at these times, extending invitations for other types of involvement and opening dialogues between parents and school staff.
Examine school policies that may be acting as barriers to parent involvement
Each school should form a team comprised of parents and teachers to discuss existing barriers to parent involvement. Teams need to ask themselves such questions as: Are parents made to feel welcome in the school? Do teachers feel comfortable having parents in their classrooms? Are there clear and meaningful opportunities for parent involvement? Are there language and cultural barriers that need to be addressed? Do some parents need transportation and childcare in order to become involved?
Inform parents of behavioral and academic problems in a timely fashion
Parents often feel that schools wait too long before notifying them of problems. They perceive this as a lack of caring on the school’s or teacher’s part. Teachers and administrators need to be sensitive to parents and enlist their support as soon as a problem has emerged.
Offer ongoing professional support and training for teachers in their work with parents
Few teachers receive training in their professional educations on how to create effective school-home partnerships. Therefore, they may need in-service training on working with families in order for parent involvement to be effective.
I believe parental involvements are very important for the schools but I also think it is very difficult for the parents to get involved because some of the parents are immigrants and they do not speak English or have enough education to teach their children. The children solely have to learn from school. I have personal experience about that because I emigrated here from China when I was nine years old with my parents. In China my parents were very involved with the elementary school I was attending, they talked to my teachers everyday to see how I was doing in my classes. But once they got to the United States, they totally withdraw themselves from my school. One of the major reasons was that they didn t speak English that well and are afraid to associate themselves with my teachers. They would receive notes from schools saying that there is an Open house, I could tell that they wanted to go and see how I was doing in school but each time they ended up not going. But they would still ask me everyday of the things I did in school, but I believe that was not enough. Although at the time I was pretty happy because whenever I would get in trouble they would not find out because I know they wouldn t go and ask my teachers what I did wrong. But I believe that I would of done better if my parents were involved with my teachers, it would give me more pressure to do well in school. But another reason that they didn t participate in school is that when they first came here, they had to work extra hard to earn money, because of the language barrier they weren t able to find relaxing jobs. My parents worked very hard, I hardly saw them, and they would come in late at night and then wake up early in the morning to go to work. It is very hard for them, so they find themselves out of energy when it comes to parental involvement at school. I remember them always telling me to have a habit of self-learning because they said that they didn t really have time to concentrate on me because in order to provide me with future education they needed to make money so I m able to attend.
So maybe one way to solve this is to get schools to get some translators, which might be costly but necessary. And when the newsletters go home to parents, instead of putting only English, maybe on the back side it could be written in a different language like Spanish, or Chinese depending on where the school is located, that way ethic parents can thoroughly read the newsletters and might be interested in going to the events that the school is offering. By getting involved in their children s schools parents can definitely help the teachers achieve the six goals of the common schools. I believe that when parents are around children will tend to listen more, and when parents are involved they would feel that they are a part of school that way they will be more concerned and aware about school s decisions.