- Family and Parenting»
What Parents Need To Know About Involvement In Common Core State Standards
Teacher & Classroom, At the Core
Parent Involvement In Schools and Common Core State Standards
Are you more than a little frustrated and/or confused by the changes in public education?
Is it hard to figure our the best way for you to contribute?
Parent involvement in schools and how it influences the efficacy of education is being discussed more passionately as we learn that the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world in critical subjects the Common Core State Standards, now being implemented nationwide, are intended to improve.
You might think the question of parental involvement in improving common core standards would more of "How?" and "How much? not "Should we?"
But there is even one critic who questions the intrinsic value of parental involvement in education, comparing it to that other suspect quality - wait for it....good citizenship.
In a stinging New York Times article, columnist Charles Blow notes a Broad Foundation study that shows American students ranking far behind those in other advanced countries in math, science and reading.
Amanda Ripley in shows that these results are consistent, regardless of the economic circumstances of the students, dismissing claims that impoverished students were dragging down results for all. The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way
(See also: Less Is More With Common Core Standards)
There are other criticisms of the Common Core State Standards as well as the role of parental involvement in schools, but the initiative, with strong support from the Obama Administration and the National Education Association, is rolling forward in 45 states right now, and it involves the vast majority of American students.
Digging Deeper - What Is The Common Core?
In preparation for the implementation of Common Core Standards, a number of new books try to help sort things out.
Overeview: What's the Common Core all about?
Parent Involvement, Schools and Education
In comparing American students with their Japanese counterparts, against whom they do poorly in core competency tests, it's been noted that, in Japan, education is considered a privilege while, here, it's a right.
Japanese parents become involved to encourage their children's success because they choose to do so, not because anyone tells them they must.
The National Education Association is clear: parent involvement is critical to success in education and in support of the schools their children attend. NEA cites "A New Wave Of Evidence," a study first reported in 2002.
In categories from getting better grades to the likelihood of going on the higher education, students with greater parent involvement do better.
The kind of involvement matters, however.Alfie Kohn, author of , among others, and responsible for the good citizen analogy above, makes several strong arguments against taking the benefit of parental involvement in education for granted. The Schools Our Children Deserve
An important point is whether children see their parents and teachers in alliance to help them or as one that opposes their natural development.
In concert with much else in America, a trend to commoditize has created a "whatever education my money can buy" attitude among some instead of schooling that counts in the development of children as unique individuals. We're in danger of educating a generation of robots unless more concern is shown to individuals.
But although this is a legitimate concern of schools, it really is a core parent responsibility.Other concerns raised by Kohn include the thoughtless demand that lower income parents become more involved, regardless of time available and without respect for their comfort zones in formal environments.
Kohn also points out what should be obvious: poorly educated parents may inject more harm than good into homework.
Kohn argues that there is no evidence that homework assignments before high school are of any benefit. But taken against powerful evidence that parental involvement helps on many levels, what really seems to matter is how involvement takes place and is managed between schools and parents.
The NEA website makes this case more clearly than I can:
"The school plays an important role in determining the levels of parental involvement in school. Specifically, schools can outline their expectations of parents and regularly communicate with parents about what children are learning. Also, schools can provide opportunities for parents to talk with school personnel about parents' role in their children's education through home visits, family nights, and well-planned parent-teacher conferences and open houses. In addition, the National PTA recommends that parent/family involvement programs welcome parents as volunteer partners in schools and that these programs invite parents to act as full partners in making school decisions that affect children and families.When parents talk to their children about school, expect them to do well, make sure that out-of-school activities are constructive, and help them plan for college, their children perform better in school."
Why Common Core Standards?
Do we really need them?
The late Apple Founder Steve Jobs made the case for improving American education, citing the shortage of qualified job candidates and the resulting need to resource work overseas.
His Microsoft counterpart Bill Gates has poured millions into educational initiatives through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
More recently, covering a local hearing on Cornell's pioneering new technology campus planned for New York City, I listened as Etsy and other technology-dependent companies bemoaned the inability to fill jobs with qualified domestic candidates.
Everyone seems to agree our schools, whether in rich or poor districts, are failing in their primary mission to prepare students for today's jobs.
You'd think the initiative uncontroversial, but only if you forgot that this is America where nothing escapes controversy.
A common and valid concern was expressed by Marion Brady in a Washington Post Article that was otherwise more heat than light.
The Common Core Standards, she complained, were heavy on one-size-fits-all conformity. Children she claimed, as education scholar Diane Ravitch has, that more flexibility was needed to adjust for different community standards and interests.
But this sounds more like nibbling at the edges, what we get with anything new, than real analysis.
Others complain about reliance on testing coupled with inadequate preparation in our persistently underfunded public schools. Here in America, we love education. We just historically unwilling to pay for it.
"The common core standards themselves are actually really appropriate," says an upstate New York teacher, describing a recipe for failure. "It is the roll out of tests before materials are provided" that undermines efforts on the ground.
What the Common Core State Standards strive to improve are, broadly, skills in math, reading, science, writing, critical thinking and analysis. The factor they cannot address is parental involvement in education and in schools generally.
In spite of National Education Association supported research showing the clear value of participation, the same teacher points out,
"When I assign math facts as nightly homework for struggling students I get notes back saying they were too busy to complete the work."
Compare that with studies showing that children average more than 3 hours every day in front of a television, and that does't count time on Facebook and other social media sites.
In another depressing statistic, a recent PDK/Gallop Poll found that more than 2/3 of respondents had never heard of the Common Core Standards, let alone knew what they were.
Dig Deeper, Parent Involvement In Education - The more you know...
Here are some options to learn more in detail about the critical topic on parent involvement in education and schools.
Quick Look At The Common Core State Standards - Why They Matter
Books By Authors Noted In This Article - Get To Know More
Authors whose topics include parent involvement in education and common core standards were mentioned above. Here are some of their books now available on Amazon.
The consensus is clear that parental involvement is very important to success in children's education and for the schools they attend, especially now as the Common Core State Standards are implemented across the country.
Still, work needs to be done.
Perhaps the greatest challenge ahead is to educate parents who fail to encourage educational values that go beyond good grades and to increase awareness among communities that underfund public schools.
It's not enough to demand grades nor is it sufficient to praise public schools without paying for the teachers, materials and infrastructure needed to keep pace - rather, catch up - with the rest of the world.
As the Common Core State Standards are put in place, no better time exists for reexamining how we as parents and members of the community participate in education.
Not long ago, America was the admired world leader. Today, we've fallen behind.
Do we change now to make things better or just wait, as we do with so many things, like global warming, until so much damage is done we have no choice?
© 2013 David Stone