Educators are often told to only focus on things within their locus of control. This makes sense considering it is the only thing we have power over. I can’t control what happens outside the four walls of my class; therefore, most of my time and energy should be spent there. However, in this modern age of understanding and sensitivity another trend has arisen: The reluctance to place any responsibility on the parents, and this is problematic.
Teaching children is a partnership between educators and families. Both sides need to be engaged in the partnership for it to work well. It may come as no surprise that this does not always happen. Schools often fall short, but sometimes parents do, too.
For example, it’s up to parents to make sure their children study and complete their homework. As a teacher, I can call and text reminders. I can give you advance notice. I can even email the answer keys. But at the end of the day, I can’t make a student do anything outside of school and some material necessitates it.
Attendance is another example. Public schools are required to provide transportation, and they do. However, schools cannot make students get up to catch the bus. Parents have to make sure their children are at the bus stops or leaving to walk on time if they live close enough.
Behavior is a frequent battle, too. As a teacher, there is only so much, I can do to improve behavior in my class. Usually, that is enough but without at least minimal buy-in from parents, discipline in class becomes useless. It is hard to hold children accountable for behavior in school when parents openly don’t hold them accountable at home. The parents who think their children never do anything wrong are doing them a disservice in the long run.
I get where the reluctance comes from. I know society wants to blame the poor, minority parents for ills and conditions they didn’t create. There are also real-world obstacles to being engaged at school, and even the parents that argue on the phone about behavior believe they are doing right by their child. However, many parents can do more and schools should encourage and help them. That’s not offensive or insensitive.
Many schools host clinics and workshops around areas such as reading at home and choosing colleges. Some schools put in truancy intervention plans where they work with parents to identify gaps and improve attendance. There are all kinds of support schools provide to help parents.
If schools are going to hold parents accountable, then they need to ensure they are giving them the resources they need. The system we have doesn’t work without both sides doing their part. Some stuff has to happen at home.