When I hear people say that the answer to many of the problems with our education system is to have the parents get more involved, I always want to ask them how they suggest parents to that. Some parents have to work during the day, so they cannot volunteer their time at school and for some it is difficult to attend PTA meetings and/or parent-teacher meetings due to scheduling problems. There is also no guaranteed method of getting information concerning assigned schoolwork to parents which would allow them to help their kids at home.
While I admit it is not the complete answer to the problem of our schools, I propose a plan to help parents get involved in the everyday schoolwork of their children. The idea is to add a link to each school’s web site that would allow parents to find what assignments were given for the day. Any handouts that have been used in class or have been given to students to work on at home could be included for quick downloading.
By having access to this information on line, a parent would be able to ensure that homework is being done and have the added benefit of allowing the parent to help keep their child from falling behind in the event they miss school due to illness or any other reason.
In this plan, there would be very little additional cost to maintain the web site, because students doing office work to earn community service points for graduation or parent volunteers could update and maintain the site with the current assignments. I would suggest that the local community college could take on the project of either modifying existing sites or building sites for schools in their area as part of a hands-on project for their curriculum.
The attendance of a student could also be a good tool for parents to have available on this site. If a child’s grades are slipping and the parent finds they are not attending classes, they can deal better with that problem. They, otherwise, might not be aware of it. To make this possible, a simple password could be provided to the parent at the beginning of the school year and help protect the privacy of other students. I realize the programming could cost a little more to add this feature, but would probably be worth it in the end if it helps get the parent more involved in the child’s schoolwork.
Obviously, this plan cannot be all-inclusive because everyone does not have access to the internet in their homes. For those who do not have access and cannot access accounts any other way, there is the public library. Any parent can access the internet at the library and perhaps the library staff could be persuaded to have a special computer dedicated for this purpose and make special arrangements with parents, grand-parents and guardians to allow computer time and initial instruction of how to access the information.
While this plan is not the answer, it is a step. Let’s take this step now.