Sunday, November 9, 2008

An Unlikely Target For My Ire: National PTA

I recently got an email from the National PTA showing what happens when soccer moms and kindergarten teachers decide that they are a national child advocacy organization.

(I didn't know a National PTA existed until I got their email.)

Here is what they sent me. Let us fisk:
The Federal Government should provide parents multiple opportunities to be active participants in their child's education.

Absurd. Is it the federal government's job to take any role in my relationship with my children or their school? Parents who want to talk to their kid's teacher or the principal manage just fine without federal guidelines.

And I am infuriated by the notion that I won't read to my kids or help them with their homework unless bureaucrats in Washington offices help me out. Parents who want to be involved in their kid's education already are, and no amount of statist crap from Congress or the federal apparatus will change the ones who aren't.

Studies have documented that regardless of the economic, ethnic or cultural background of the family, parent involvement in a child's education is a major factor in determining success in school.

This is probably true, although I can't see why it the federal government to spend tax revenue to regulate things and make rules.

Though Congress cannot mandate parental engagement, the federal government should create a system of accountability designed to encourage parents to be active partners in their child's education while ensuring local flexibility.

I sense a note of regret here. I'm fairly confident they would send the Gestapo after anyone missing a parent teacher conference if they could. After all, the National Parks Service has a machine gun-armed SWAT team. (I am not kidding. More on this later.) Why not the PTA?

Further it is imperative that parents know immediately that their child's school is failing, the exact cause of the failure what the state is doing about and the options available to parents and students -- all in a very clear and understandable manner.

I get it now. The Leninist Vanguard at the PTA thinks we're too dumb to realize if our school is failing. Not only are we too dumb to notice, but the teachers we talk to and the administration of the school at the local and state level is apparently also too dumb to tell us anything. And even if they did, it would probably be too complicated unless the Feds make rules about how they explain things.
I'm not about to start home-schooling my kids, but this is the kind of thing that could push me over the edge.


TN said...

Dear Meat-Axe:
I agree with you mostly. The disease is real (disengaged parents with their heads up their collective asses), their proposed remedy is fukakte.

Do you think there is room for an institutionalized solution that sensitizes shitty parents to what one would think would be glaringly obvious?


MeatAxe said...

Hi there Porcus,

Glad to see someone is reading. The crux of my argument -- wish I'd thought to say this yesterday -- is that there isnt A solution. There are probably many solutions, and they depend on the school system and the parents and all the other actors as well.

Case in point: my wife is a teacher and did her student teaching at a school where many of the parents were uninvolved.

Many of them were immigrants, many worked 2 or even 3 jobs, some were illiterate in their own languages and unaware of what was even happening in the school.

Some were scared to have any interaction at all with The State, as it might draw attention to their illegal alien status.

Would an institutionalized solution intended to increase parent involvement designed for this school work for the students and parents in Darien CT?

I doubt it. Thats why I say government paints with too broad a brush.

Better to let individual schools come up with their own plans to connect with parents

Anonymous said...

Think about this...

What if school districts purposely disengage parents from being active members of their child's education?
Administrators and school boards could micromanage the business and dare I say, curriculum of the school districts. I wonder where that would lead future generations?

I agree this is best left up to local schools to manage their own parental involvement policies. However, what is this system fails? What do parents do then? No involvement from parents----means no one to answer to!

Perhaps, instituting some system of accountability is a good. The alternative might be a nation that is 25th globally in mathematics, lots of high school drop outs, high school students that don't know the difference between PTA and ATP, and a nation stunned by the failure of public education.

Parents, get involved!! Kudos, National PTA!

MeatAxe said...

I think you're utterly missing the point.

If parents want to get involved, they will. If local taxpayers pressure local school officials they WILL get results.

Pressuring the federal government to take action is a waste of time, and effort. Because the issue is DO YOU CARE OR NOT??

Federal guidelines cant MAKE people care. If you didn't care about your local school, would a federal guideline change your mind?

And what federal guideline could possibly be relevant to schools in such different situations all over the country?

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