(submitted in response to the Plain Dealerfs March 30 editorial gInvolve Parents on Their Own Termsh)


Letters to the Editor

The Plain Dealer

1801 Superior Ave.

Cleveland, OH, 44114


March 30, 1999


Dear Editor,


I am ashamed of your staff and its March 30 education editorial gInvolve Parents on Their Own Terms.h The piece did not display even a superficial knowledge of Public Agendafs November 1998 gPlaying Their Partsh survey and, as a result, the conclusions drawn within the piece are wholly irresponsible.


The editorialfs opening sentence, gThe term eparental involvementf is about as controversial as apple pie,h directly contradicts the surveyfs findings.  Public Agendafs summary of the report called the issue gas complex and subtle as any area wefve examinedh and openly questioned g[I]s parental involvement really noncontroversial, or just unexamined?h


It is important to remember that the source of the study was not, as the editorial implies, superintendents or principals trying to gwin praiseh or gmake points,h but Kraft Foods (a Philip Morris company) which funded the study for its series of upcoming seminars promoting gsite-based management teamsh at schools.  Unfortunately for its sponsor, the results show that parents gfeel uncomfortable and unqualified to take on management duties.h Public Agendafs Executive Director Deborah Wadsworth further points out, gWhat many policy makers and reformers are talking about—getting parents involved in school governance—misses the most bedeviling concerns teachers and parents face."


The gtinder that ignitesh these concerns, according to the survey, is homework.  Half of the parents reported having a serious argument (involving gyelling or cryingh) with their child over homework during the past year, over one-third reported that homework was a source of struggle and stress between them and their child, and over one-fifth even admitted to doing part of their childfs homework because it was gtoo difficulth or the child was gtoo tired.h  One parent from the focus groups complained, gI wanted this to be quality love time, and it couldnft be because of this homework.h  To further complicate matters, while 72% of parents considered the high school years to be the ones that will cause them the most worry, 63% felt it natural to become less involved in their childfs education in these later years believing it to be a sign of the childfs growing independence.  Nearly 90% of parents felt gas long as they try hard, children should never feel bad about themselves because of poor grades in schools.h


Your editorial claimed that the survey gconfirms common sense: Most parents believe it is far more important to raise children who want to learn than to help make hiring and curricular decisions at their childrenfs schools.h  Is it also gcommon senseh that parents (not the teachers) want children to do less homework and feel good about themselves in spite of poor grades?


The articlefs closing line, along with the March 16 education editorial gMissing Connections,h further reveals your newspaperfs ongoing agenda against teachers:  gThe better news would be if educators listened to parents, rather than presuming to know what they want.h  However, the best news would be if your newspaper responsibly investigated, interpreted, and disseminated the whole truth instead of deceitfully serving its readers mock apple pie as the genuine article.


Milton Alan Turner