Parents want to be involved in their children’s education, but in diffferent ways, according to Ready, Willing and Able?, a new Public Agenda survey of parents in the Kansas City, Missouri area.
While 52 percent say parent involvement at home will do the most to improve schools, 42 percent say parents should be more involved in running schools.
A successful family involvement program must appeal to three types of parents, Public Agenda recommended.
• Help seekers: Roughly 19 percent of parents are most concerned with finding out their own children’s academic progress and learning how they can help their students improve. . . . The majority say they don’t know how and don’t have time to do more than they already are doing to be involved in school.
• School helpers: This 27 percent of parents is the closest to the traditional picture of the “PTA mom and dad.” Nearly three out of four of them have already volunteered at the school in the past year, and they are most likely of all parents to trust the school officials. According to the study, these parents are open to “traditional” school involvement such as hall monitoring or fundraising, but less comfortable with contributing to school policies.
• Potential transformers: Finally, 31 percent of parents said they were interested in and ready to be more involved in shaping how the schools operate. They are more likely to be aware of how their own school and district stack up to others in terms of academic performance and teacher qualifications, and they are also more likely than other parents to know what classes and skills their children need to be prepared for college. However, only between a quarter and a third of these parents have actually been asked to get more involved.
Half of Kansas City parents said they could be more involved at their child’s school if they made an effort.