A LYS Principal submits:Some mythology is simply left over from over 100 years of “conventional wisdom” that simply has little factual basis. Other myths, however, seem to be a bit more sinister. Let’s talk about parent involvement. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Parents involved in their child’s education is a good thing. But is it a necessary practice? It seems to me that the so-called lack of parent involvement is merely an excuse contrived by educators to explain away their lack of success. I have been in 7 high schools. Rich ones, poor ones. Urban, rural, and suburban. Large, medium, and small. And you know, in every one of those schools somewhere between 95% and 99.9% of parents were at least supportive, if not “involved.” I contend that parent support is all you really need. Not that parent involvement won’t make your job easier. But the lack of parent involvement does not make the job of educating children impossible. If you can make a phone call to a parent and get help with a student, that’s all you need. If that doesn’t work, try a home visit. Again, in every school I have worked in the vast majority of parents were supportive. So quit blaming the kids and the parents. Take what you have and make it work. SC Response I always amuses me when I here the well meaning, but misguided, “expert” who tries to explain that parent involvement is the critical element to school improvement. They will often present data that shows the connection between performance and involvement and generally have a very complex and labor intensive program to get more parents involved. Here’s the first problem with this argument, correlation is not causation. Yes, parents are often involved with successful schools, but my contention is that parents are involved due to the success; they are not the cause of the success. Second, purposely courting parents before the campus is successful, takes resources away from the critical task of becoming successful. I advocate making your campus welcoming to parents. Instead of seventeen reserved parking spaces in front of your campus devoted to everyone from the principal to the assistant registrar, why not reserve those spaces for visitors? I advocate communicating openly, honestly and often with parents. Instead of only calling with bad news, why not call whenever there is good news. I advocate making sure that more students are successful. Instead of spreading the misery, why not build a student success magnet. Parents send us the best they have. If we constantly point out that their best isn’t very good, why are we surprised when they don’t freely share their limited time and resources? If on the other hand we take their best and make them better, at scale, what do you think will happen? Think. Work. Achieve.Your turn…Follow Sean Cain on www.Twitter.com/LYSNationAttend the LYS Presentation at the TASB Winter Legal ConferenceVisit the LYS Booth at the NASSP ConferenceAttend the LYS Presentation at the Texas Middle School Association Conference

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