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What Parents Need To Know About Involvement In Common Core State Standards

Updated on November 23, 2014

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 The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way 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.

(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.

Parent Involvement, Schools and Education

How important?

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 The Schools Our Children Deserve, 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.

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

An overview.

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

What do you think?

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    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      4 years ago from New York City

      @williamslaw: Thank you.

    • williamslaw profile image


      4 years ago

      Wonderful lens.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      5 years ago from New York City

      @ChristyZ: Youre right, Christy, but its complicated and bad habits are all over the place.Thanks.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      5 years ago from New York City

      @Lorelei Cohen: There's truth in that, Lorelei, but I vacillate, knowing that people, young and old, waste five hours a day in front of the television. That stat makes me wonder how much effort is being made. Our priorities are a little askew, along with all the other difficulties.Families that do well because parents as well as children are engaged spend more time doing, less watching.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      I think that so many homes now have both parents in the work force bringing in less time for parents to truly be parents. When everyone gets home they may be more focused now on grabbing that few precious minutes of me time. Tough economic times change many things.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      5 years ago from New York City

      @darciefrench lm: Thanks for the feet on the ground view, Darcie.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      5 years ago from New York City

      @sybil watson: People, like you, with real involvement seem to agree on these points. The problem, I think, comes from people disconnect from the subject itself.Thanks.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      5 years ago from New York City

      @Nancy Hardin: Thanks, Nancy. No kids in school myself, but our educational systems still gets my attention.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Congratulations on your purple star for this lens. It's well written, informative and shows knowledge of the subject. I haven't had a kid in school for so long, I'm not sure where I stand on this, but you can bet whatever is the best for the children is what I support.

    • profile image

      sybil watson 

      5 years ago

      As the Parent and Community Facilitator in the elementary school where I work, I can equivocally state that parental (and community) involvement is integral to students' success. In our school of 510 students we have 75 parental/community volunteers and the majority of their time is spent helping the students whose families are not able to support them at home.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      5 years ago

      All too often, parents are only asked to participate based on their child either performing or acting poorly, and the parent gets on the defensive and the gap grows bigger. This happened with us since kindergarten with our last child who's had behavorial issues in school. I get the sense that the teachers look at parents of kids with "problems" as being the problem, so am not so much welcome in the classroom as a "contributor to the success of children". Also, in order to volunteer in schools (aka participate) one needs to have a clean criminal record. I do, albeit once a landlord called the police once when I refused to vacate a day early on my lease - there were never any charges, but I had to explain the incident to the school before I could volunteer. I took it again to me I was just not the kind of parent the system wanted to support. The way the system is, it seems many parents on the defensive. On the other hand, last year we were invited to bring our pet rats to the classroom, which brought parents, teacher and student together in a casual and fun way - would be nice if that were always the case, but there are so many other variables to consider on a case by case basis. Seems to me we could look right to the Constitution when it comes to developing Common Core standards of any kind, because it encompasses all rights of mankind.

    • David Stone1 profile imageAUTHOR

      David Stone 

      5 years ago from New York City

      @ChristyZ: Thanks, as always, Christy.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very interesting article. Parents definitely need to stay involved in order for their children to succeed in school.


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