NPR's Talk of the Nation hosted a discussion on Monday about how to get more parents involved in their child's education. In 2007, according to Department of Education numbers, 20 percent of parents skipped conferences with their kids' teachers—a phenomenon that is more pronounced in low-income communities. Proposed solutions for raising the level of parental involvement in education run the gambit from making schools more "welcoming" to visiting parents to jailing parents who willfully neglect their children's education.
Kym Worthy, a prosecutor from Detroit, suggests a couple nights in jail for parents who continually miss parent/teacher conferences at their children's school (video above). It's a harsh measure, but Worthy says she's tired of arresting children as young as 10 years old for violent crimes, ranging from robbery to murder.
Whereas Worthy's solution occupies possibly an extreme end of the spectrum, other guests on the NPR program suggested more measured interventions. Many parents don't feel welcome at schools, so national PTA President Charles Saylors suggests making parent/teacher conferences more collegial and welcoming to parents. He also suggests scheduling them so that parents who must work multiple jobs are able to attend—and advocates extreme examples of even going to a child's home. One aspect of this is being respectful of a particular child's situation, accepting and working with students from non-traditional homes, for example, such as those where grandparents are the primary guardians.
Tracy McDaniel, founder of a KIPP middle school in Oklahoma City, discussed a pledge that the well-regarded college preparatory charter network requires of all parents who send their children to one of its schools. The parents not only promise to make sure their children are reading and doing their homework, but KIPP actually goes so far as to train adults on how to perform these functions.
Not mentioned during the NPR report is a program that's active in St. Louis, which actually pays parents to ensure that their kids have good attendance and that they attend parent/teacher conferences.
Listen to the NPR report (embedded below) and weigh in: How can we get parents more involved in their child's education?