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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'Parents can't solve a problem they don't know they have'

Many parents don't realize how badly their children are doing in school, reports AP's Bianca Vazquez Toness. Teachers don't like to deliver bad news or believe low-income parents don't care.

A 2022 survey of 1,400 public school parents around the country by Learning Heroes showed 92% believed their children were performing at grade level. But in a federal survey, school officials said half of all U.S. students started this school year behind grade level in at least one subject.

“Parents can’t solve a problem that they don’t know they have,” said Cindi Williams, co-founder of the nonprofit.

Photo: Mikhail Nilov/Pexels

In Boston, a Haitian immigrant mother got frequent calls about her son's behavior in reading class, but nobody told her he was frustrated because he couldn't read. “They don’t really care how much they learn, as long as they stay quiet,” Evena Joseph concluded. When the hospital treating her son for depression assigned an education advocate, she realized the problem, and moved her son to a different school that offered tutoring.


Report cards are unreliable, writes Vazquez Toness. She talked to a Nashville mother whose second-grade son received mostly As and a B in English. She couldn't interpret the scores posted online. At a parent-teacher conference, the mother was told, "Your son is doing well." But, as she'd suspected, he wasn't reading well. Her son's afterschool program tested him, found he was reading below grade level and offered reading assistance.

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