"A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops." Henry Brooks Adams

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"P" is for Parents and Powerful

One of the things that can drive teachers crazy is that we are NEVER permitted to mention the "P" Word. When we are in meetings talking about how to improve things in schools and for students, the "P" word is not allowed to be spoken. What, you might ask, is the dreaded "P" word? Well, it is "PARENTS". Parents, we have all been told, are their child's first teachers. Parents are the ones who spend the most time with their children before they go to school, and parents are the ones who transmit (either obviously or implicitly) their attitudes towards school and education to their offspring. Every classroom teacher knows that if you need to do some special or extra work with a student, you must get a parent on your side before it can happen. However, school administrators and government officials who deal with education are extremely reluctant to call some parents out on their neglectful behavior. If a child does not come to school, or comes to kindergarten woefully ill-prepared, or is tired and/or hungry everyday, WHO is responsible for that?? Well, logic would tell you it is the parents, but school districts will tell you that the school (meaning teachers) MUST find a way to overcome all this and make sure the child becomes proficient or advanced in all subjects.
What would happen if we told the truth to parents? What would happen if we said, "You are the single most powerful person in your child's life. Nothing I do can work without your support."? Would parents step up, own their power, and use it to propel their children towards success? I think they would. I hope they would. We know that some parents have always done this. This kind of parental involvement and power does not always tie into to socio-economic status, we have all known poor parents who make sure their children excel in school and wealthy parents who are quite neglectful. However, too often, poorer schools are the schools that lack sufficient parental involvement. There are many reasons for this, but maybe we need to stop listing the reasons, and just ask parents to accept their power. Being a parent is the most important job we will ever do, and we all must realize that it is critical for our children that parents own up to their influence and make sure their children take advantage of all school opportunities open to them.

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