by Christopher Paslay
Parental involvement in Philadelphia public schools is notoriously low. Over the past decade, less than 10% of my students’ mothers and fathers have shown up for school functions such as Back to School Night and Report Card Night.
Colleagues of mine from other parts of the city report the same problem: The majority of mothers and fathers do not show up for school functions.
According to information published in the Winter 2006-07 edition of The Philadelphia Public School Notebook: Focus on Parent Involvement, here are 10 reasons why parents of Philadelphia public school children don’t attend teacher conference:
10. Some parents can’t read letters sent by schools inviting them to attend conferences.
9. Parents do not receive information far enough in advance to adjust their schedules.
8. Parents do not have the time because they have multiple outside responsibilities.
7. Cultural barriers make it difficult for some parents to be involved.
6. Schools are not clear in terms of how much and in what ways they want parents involved.
5. Some parents are not involved at school but are involved through informal conversations or discussions in the home.
4. Schools are not “welcoming” enough to parents; parents feel uncomfortable or intimidated approaching the teacher.
3. Some parents don’t understand English.
2. Principals do not set the right “tone” for parents to get involved in school.
1. Some parents do not know where their child’s school is located.
Excuses or legitimate issues? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Either way, the district and moms and dads must find some common ground so teachers can truly make parents their partners.