(submitted in response to the Plain Dealerfs March 30 editorial gInvolve Parents on Their Own Termsh)
Letters to the Editor
The Plain Dealer
1801 Superior Ave.
Cleveland, OH, 44114
March 30, 1999
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 Agendafs November 1998 gPlaying Their Partsh survey and, as a result, the conclusions drawn within the piece are wholly irresponsible.
The editorialfs opening sentence, gThe term eparental involvementf is about as controversial as apple pie,h directly contradicts the surveyfs findings. Public Agendafs summary of the report called the issue gas complex and subtle as any area wefve examinedh 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 praiseh 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 teamsh at schools. Unfortunately for its sponsor, the results show that parents gfeel uncomfortable and unqualified to take on management duties.h Public Agendafs 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 ignitesh these concerns, according to the survey, is homework. Half of the parents reported having a serious argument (involving gyelling or cryingh) 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 childfs homework because it was gtoo difficulth or the child was gtoo tired.h One parent from the focus groups complained, gI wanted this to be quality love time, and it couldnft 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 childfs education in these later years believing it to be a sign of the childfs 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 childrenfs schools.h Is it also gcommon senseh that parents (not the teachers) want children to do less homework and feel good about themselves in spite of poor grades?
The articlefs closing line, along with the March 16 education editorial gMissing Connections,h further reveals your newspaperfs 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