Published: 30-06-2011, 05:41

Home/school partnerships - American Education

The vaguely defined and problematic, cooperative effort of parents and guardians to help their children’s schools achieve their educational goals. Making a clear definition of such partnerships difficult is the dilemma created by a system of universal public education governed by a citizen democracy in which parents and other citizens elect school boards to determine educational policies. Few school districts require any professional qualification—or even a literary test—for school board membership. No other nation has a similar system that permits the personal political, religious or moral beliefs of often uneducated and professionally unqualified parents and politicians to override professional considerations.
At the core of the dilemma is the extent of parental and community rights to determine the character of their children’s education. Many parents do not believe that tax-supported schools should have the right to teach children truths that controvert the beliefs of their parents. Such parents see home/school partnerships as the active imposition of parental political, religious and moral beliefs on schools, through active participation in the school board election process.
Professional educators, on the other hand, favor home/school partnerships akin to those at the most selective private schools, which bar parents from interfering in school policy determination and limit their role to supporting school-dictated programs. Culled from a variety of private school handbooks for parents, such school-approved supportive efforts include: imposing behavioral controls on their children; limiting family and children’s TV viewing; filling their homes with books and reading to their children; monitoring their homework; ensuring that their children get enough sleep and a proper diet; enriching their children’s cultural lives and supplementing their education by taking them to museums, concerts, theaters and a variety of other cultural attractions and events; supporting school and teacher demands for greater academic effort and not excusing poor academic performance because children say the work is too difficult; and not removing children from school for frivolous activities such as opening day of professional baseball or a family ski vacation.
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