After taking his ball and running home last week, J.D., of Math and Text
, makes a triumphant return to the school yard to play with the big kids again. (We kid because we love.)
Anyway, for those of you who haven't been playing along at home, the topic has been Parental Involvement/Support and Effective Instruction. Oddly enough, we seem to be both for parental support and for effective instruction. Yet, there's a disagreement.
The disagreement appears to center around what happens when parents are not supportive.
I say that this lack of support does not absolve schools from teaching these kids. Moreover, my position is that parental support would not be necessary if schools were using effective teaching practices. To the extent that schools continue to use ineffective instructional practices, they are solely responsible for the failure to educate kids who (the research indicates) would have succeeded if effective practices were employed, regardless of external factors, such as lack of parental support. There are a few kids at the margin who may need additional parental support to succeed even with the use of state-of-the-art instructional practices. I've conceded some joint responsibility there (at least until we develop better instructional techniques), but these kids represent a tiny fraction of current student failures.
J.D. says that research shows that parental support has positive effects on learning. Parents, students, and schools are jointly responsible for the student's education. J.D., also believes that schools also need to improve their instruction too. J.D. seems to think that if we improved parental support, schools wouldn't need to make major changes to improve student preformance. (At least I think this is J.D.'s position; he'll let us know if I've mischaracterized it.)
With that groundwork set let's go to the latest round of the debate
[T]he short answer is they can't--EXCEPT to encourage their children's schooling, get on them when grades are low, instill in them the value of an education (think immigrants), reinforce a work ethic as it involves school, etc.
This is ALL parent involvement, and I'm sure that most teachers would say (wrong or right) that such involvement is NOT there from many families.
I'm sure it's not there for a significant portion of low-SES families. One hallmark of low-SES people is that they tend to make bad decisions like this. But we knew this going into the game. The question remains though, what should we do when these kids show up at the school house door?
I think your position is that we expend resources trying to get this elusive parental involvement in the hope that we get the small but positive effect size we see in the research (giving the benefit of the doubt that research is valid).
Problem is, we need large effect sizes to get most of these kids up to grade level. Parental involvement will help at the margin for some kids, but we need much than that to solve our problems.
I think we both agree that the "that" is much better classroom instruction. And, what I've been saying is that the effect size is sufficiently large when you make the instruction more effective, that the parental involvement component is not a significant factor anymore. Again, great if you can get it, but it isn't necessary and the lack of it would only affect a very small percentage of kids at the margin.
All the examples of parental involvement you've listed (encourage their children's schooling, get on them when grades are low, instill in them the value of an education ..., reinforce a work ethic as it involves school, etc.)
are motivational. First, all of these things should already be part of a competent classroom management system directed toward disciplining and motivating students, reducing the need for motivation at home and second, all this motivation is for naught anyway when the kids are getting the constant negative feedback when they are not learning caused by a curriculum that is sufficiently lousy that.
Although you are inclined to not believe me, I have not found a single study that tested the effects of increased parent involvement to yield a negative influence--NOT ONE.
I would expect to see such results: good parental involvement resembles teaching which tends to have a positive effect.
But this is Ed research we're talking about. Most of it isn't valid because the design of the studies are flawed. Did you weed out the bad research first? I'm also certain that the research does not say that "parental involvement" in the global sense, but rather that the specific kind of parental support, given under specific conditions, may have a positive effect. This is what the research tells us, but this is not what you've been arguing.
There are some that show no significant effect, but the rest show positive results.
This doesn't mean that increased parent involvement is the strategy now pursued by every district in the U.S., and to the extent that it is, they're wrong. It is not a cure-all.
There's nothing wrong, per se
, with schools trying to get more parental support. It just shouldn't be used as an excuse not to pursue other more effective things and the failure of some parents not to play along shouldn't be an excuse.
But neither is a system-wide change. At least right now. At least right now. I am the first to jump on the bandwagon of any argument that suggests total systemic change from the education industry, but I'm also aware enough to know that's not happening now.
Changing the curriculum is not a system-wide change. Schools do it all the time with little complaint. Are you saying that we shouldn't try other changes until if we see if increased parental involvement works? I'm sure even your research doesn't show the effect sizes needed to sufficiently improve student achievement.
And, to be frank, I have some misgivings about turning teachers into robots reading from an Englemann script, no matter how effective it is in the short term.
What do you call teachers when they read from their own lesson plans aka scripts? Are they robots too? There wouldn't be a need for scripts if Ed schools did a better job teaching teachers how to effectively instruct students. There also is some evidence that it is equally effective in the long term.
We're not Singapore or Japan, and test scores, no matter what the Feds say, are not the end-all and be-all of education.
Of course not, but when test scores are showing a problem, like they currently do, you fix it. You can have high test scores and all the other stuff too.
The system of education in this country was, in small part, designed to reduce the influence of such "King Georgeism."
The original system perhaps, but then we installed a public education system which all but guaranteed it.
What we have right now is a system that doesn't work to the best of its ability. So parents can either do something about it or sit on the sidelines like a bunch of screaming nags and bitch about how everything is wrong.
As long as educators are denying there is a problem, claiming that they're doing their best already (we just need more help from the parents), using bad instructional programs, denying that they're not bad, refusing to change, and generally making all sorts of ridiculous claims; there is a value to pointing out the problems and proposing alternate solutions. I suppose you'll be torching the newspapers and other media outlets later today that basically serve the same function.
And how is this any worse than the apologist education blogs which make excuses for the shortcoming of the education system, you know, like when some parents don't provide adequate support?
I'll be the first to say that I think we can do both.
There, I let J.D. have the last word.