Should Parents Be Required To Help In Schools?

12/05/2010 23:28 | Updated 22 May 2015

Now here's an idea that will strike terror in most parents' hearts -- schools in an American district may start requiring parents of pupils to volunteer their help for a minimum 30 hours a year.

While that doesn't seem much, spread out over a whole school year, it might pose problems for those parents who work or have other commitments.

Apparently the idea is modelled on a scheme at an alternative school where parents are graded and even get sent to the principal's office if they don't put in the hours.

Good grief. I'm thanking my lucky stars this doesn't happen in the UK because, while I could do the hours and do actually run an after-school club, the thought of being made to brings out the petulant toddler in me.The idea is being mooted for some schools in California, according to the San Jose Mercury News, and affects families of the 13,000 pupils enrolled in the city's Alum Rock Union school district.

"We're trying to create a culture of strong parent-guardian-family participation in schools," Gustavo Gonzalez, Alum Rock trustee, tells the newspaper.

The final proposal, which could be put before the full school board this summer, may not include the grading system, says Gonzalez whose children attend the alternative school that has pioneered this idea.

In the district's affluent areas, parents who volunteer are a tradition and a mainstay at the high-achieving schools, according to the paper.

Principal Carmen Giedt of Terman Middle Schools says volunteers work in the school library, publish a family directory, run after-school clubs and provide each teacher with a $300 grant for supplies.

"PTAs do marvellous things for us," Giedt says, "They do incredible stuff that is all behind the scenes."

Well, yes I'm sure it probably is very helpful but I don't see it as a parent's job to do what seem to be staff jobs such as library duties. And the compulsory element does little to foster a community spirit.

The idea, unsurprisingly, has not gone down well with some people. Volunteer Kim Mesa, who is also a former Alum Rock trustee, says not every parent has the luxury of free time in which to help out.

"I think it's a really bad idea," she tells the Mercury News. "I've had parents tell me to my face, 'Who are you to tell me what I should do with my kids?' "

However, having a parent who helps out not only benefits the school but the volunteer's children as well, according to a study carried out by the Texas-based Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

It found that those whose parents were involved in school were more likely to have higher grades and test scores, better social skills and graduate regardless of background or income levels.

What do you think? A good idea that schools could replicate here or an unworkable and unrealistic idea?

Source: Parentdish US

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