Whiteboard Jungle: Parents need to be more involved in child's education

Last week Hoover High had a Recruitment Night for the eighth-grade parents of Toll Middle School.

About a few dozen Toll parents showed up.

More than 100 Hoover students and faculty were in attendance.

What’s wrong with this picture?

There are 450 eighth-graders at Toll; if 45 families were present that night, that would translate to a 10% return, with 90% no-shows.

Back in September, I bemoaned the low parent turnout for Back to School Night. This night was more disheartening.

This was a night for parents to find out what Hoover has to offer their children, arguably the most critical four years of the K-12 educational journey, the years that greatly impact future success in college.

What message does it send to children when their parents don’t make an effort to care about their next four years of schooling?

There was no award show on TV that night, the Super Bowl was already over, and the Winter Olympics were a week away.

Sure, some parents had to work, and some didn’t want to leave the house because it was drizzling that evening. But what excuses the rest of them?

Fliers were distributed, robocalls made and Toll had a “question of the day” for a whole week about Hoover.

The announcement for this event is actually still on Toll’s website, prominently displayed as the main message, highlighting “the great opportunities that are available during your high school career.”

Think of all the dedicated Hoover administrators, teachers, students and support staff who sacrificed a couple of hours of their evening not eating dinner with their own families in order to provide for future Hoover families information critical to their children’s success.

Think of the students who had to get dressed in their pep-team outfits, the marching band who had to carry the tubas and drums, the teachers from all departments packing and carrying materials to set up tables, then repacking and returning the materials.

This was quite an effort.

Where were the parents?

Perhaps some of the families are already familiar with what Hoover has to offer, such as the most Advanced Placement classes of any high school in the district, but what if those who were absent did not know that? When would they find that out?

With today’s busy parents, it is unrealistic to expect them to attend PTSA meetings, volunteer at schools, meet one-on-one with six teachers every year at the secondary level, chaperone on field trips, and so on. But if each parent would commit to just a couple of these activities, think of how stronger the school community, as a whole, would become.

Schools traditionally grapple with student absenteeism, but parent absenteeism is more detrimental to a child’s academic success.

Children learn from their parents, and if parents aren’t involved with their children’s education, then the children likewise won’t be involved.

Educators can be staff developed on Common Core standards until they are blue in the face, taxpayers can pay higher property taxes to place iPads in the hands of students, but there is a limit to what schools can do for kids. More parents need to show interest and take an active role.

My fellow Friday columnist in this space, Joylene Wagner, discussed last week all the educational possibilities that are available to children and parents nowadays. I wonder how many parents actually take advantage of such options. There may be more choices today, but in the old days there seemed to be more parents who were parents.

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BRIAN CROSBY is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District and the author of "Smart Kids, Bad Schools and The $100,000 Teacher." He can be reached at brian-crosby.com.

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