Public High Schools Which Ignore Parents and are Not Account

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Public High Schools Which Ignore Parents and are Not Account
By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:03 am: Edit

Does anyone else notice the fact that because public schools are mandated by the state, teachers pay no attention to the parents of their students, like concerning problems, etc.?The attitude I've sometimes noticed is that the teachers rely on each other and they have a strong support system (and union) and will not answer parent inquiries, etc.It's a rather, like it or lump it, attitude. They really don't care about a parent's perspective or input. This can become critically upsetting as a student reaches graduation.

By Patient (Patient) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:14 am: Edit

Yep. My experience too. There are always a few golden exceptions; thankfully my son's teacher/advisor throughout high school was one of those.

The weird thing is that at both the elementary school (small) and middle school (big, about 3/4 the size of the high school), this was not at all an issue. Teachers were friendly, supportive, encouraging, and quick to send an email or reply to one. There was a radical change at the high school level. Part of it is I'm sure due to the philosophy that at that level the kids are expected to be their own advocates, but there is something else going on too--a defensiveness that I had never seen before. I fear, though, that some particularly difficult parents--the ones who come in with a chip on their shoulder--may set the stage for a globally defensive attitude. The teachers resist any attempt to work on the issue through workshops, meetings, etc. though so I don't think the parents are all to blame.

The only solution I have come up with, and it isn't perfect, is to really connect with the ones I can connect with, and to give praise quickly where it is due, so that I have a small network of people I can talk to. None of them are the top administrators though as I don't have the time to be involved in a daily leadership kind of position at the school. Hmmm...maybe I need to work on that. There are some bureaucrats however, who just see the school as an institution and lose sight of the individuals in the system. It can get pretty discouraging.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:22 am: Edit

Yes, that's it here too. Support and praise and top in the class all through elementary and middle school and then, wham, a registrar at the high school who treats a parent like a 4 year old and I had to virtually threaten with a letter to the the superintendant for my son's high school diploma.(Which he ws entitled to!)
Your right about networking but that is impossible with different teachers all the time in senior high.

By Patient (Patient) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:31 am: Edit

Also we have a school secretary--the first person you see when you come to the school--who in four years I have NEVER had smile back at me. Same thing in the guidance office. (They're probably okay, but it sets a bad tone.) It was SO different at the other schools--there was a comfortable, easy greeting exchanged any time one went there. Yikes--don't get me going!! was in senior year that my son finally got all the "master" teachers--best English, best math, best stats, etc...does your son have any really good ones where you can start a dialog? Sometimes that can spread a little.

By Mstee (Mstee) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:40 am: Edit

Same experiences here too. Very warm, supportive, caring teachers and staff at the elementary level, less so at the middle school, but still okay, and then at the high school, wow, a disconnect from the community, defensive attitude, a view of students and parents as the "enemy", burnt out teachers, and so on, plus lots of administrative screw-ups that just never get fixed. I know that there are some exceptions, some wonderful teachers, some reasonable administrators, but the overall experience with our oldest son was so bad, and we have a choice, so we have opted out of the local public high school. I have friends that have their kids in the public high school, and I keep hearing stories at about things that happen there that are truly bizarre.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:44 am: Edit

Yes, he has a coach and Computer Science teacher who are receptive.Frequently I think they are all overburdened. And that no smile business.They must have a reason.There is also a secretary who sends things out I can trust.Imean, we will have to check and check again to make sure transcripts/applications/etc. are actually sent.These people cannot see their feet in front of them.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:47 am: Edit

Mstee; You put it in words so well. We didn't have the option to get out but if I had known I may have prepared for taking them out.

By Originaloog (Originaloog) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 12:13 pm: Edit

My experience was so different. While we were not parents to meddle, the two times we asked to meet with a teacher, they were scheduled immediately and the meetings went well, even the one where the teacher accused my son of forging my signature on a lab policy document.

His guidance counselor was fabulous, giving him all the time he needed, suggesting early application deadlines be met and letting him use the office phone/fax/copy machine whenever needed. BTW, once he got a completed application, he had his rec/teacher recs/transcripts/school profile sent out by next day with a confirmation note to son.

Many teachers gave students home phone nos, email addresses and a few arrived early to answer student questions in the cafateria.

The office staff was always quite nice, even when we needed to drop off a forgotten lunch or calculator.

By Ellemenope (Ellemenope) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 07:44 am: Edit

I've been very lucky to have been able to volunteer at my D's big public hs in the College & Career Center (a branch of the counseling office) doing scut work, so have had a chance to get acquainted with the registrar, guidance counselors, administrators and some teachers. These people have been very nice--having a nodding acquaintance with them helps in getting info (and sometimes service).

By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 08:52 am: Edit


We have a very strong teachers' union in our district but we have also been very fortunate to be able to talk to teachers, GCs, deans, principal whenever we needed to and get them to act on sometimes unsual requests with no problem.

We have parents' nights (twice a year), parent-teachers conferences (twice a year), parents' forums a few times a year. We have an active school council with elected parent reps. I have phoned and emailed and got responses (not always as promptly as I wished, but still got a response). The high school is by no means perfect and its constant attempts at reinventing itself can be confusing and infuriating, but everybody in the school has been responsive throughout the 8 years I have been involved. At the elementary school, parents serve on committees to hire teachers and principal(s). So teachers and principal do listen to parents!

By Mom101 (Mom101) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 09:04 am: Edit

So would you be in favor of vouchers in your communities for access to private schools?

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 09:31 am: Edit

My husband is in favor of school vouchers but I am not.I'm worried about our already huge taxes, which in our district include many new schools being built.We want to stay in our home after retirement and I don't see how that would be possible if the taxes were to increase greatly.
Marite; we have an active PTA and parent nights. At a recent scheduling program at the senior high there were so many parents in attendance there were no seats.The place was hot and crowded and the plan was to have parents chat with the counselors. So there were maybe 10 parents who aggressively monopolized their remaining time during the program.How could they remember anyone! No, I don't think in our district too much respect is given the parents. For example, a neighbor has a mentally challanged boy who was placed in 3 district schools in 3 years. Family had to hire an attorney to get the district to listen to the fact all this moving him around is not good.Anyone could see the situation was not good, but why did an attorney have to be hired before a program to keep the boy in one place be adopted?This is one of many stories.Seems like the bigger and more well paid the teachers, the bigger their heads. You know Marite, your kids are in the top 3% or above of their class. Such kids are catered to as they are the ones who bring the school's averages up.The same respect is not give to a family whose kid's are in the top 20%.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 09:31 am: Edit

I was head of parent group at my daughters former school ( younger). I don't think this gave me any more access, except to the spouse of another board member( although frankly he was very helpful by email even before we were on the board- too bad he wasn't one of my daughters teachers, but we had lots of interesting discussions re:math)( I take this back- to office staff it did, because I was in the office everyday- but they were as friendly to me as to everyone else , it was a very informal school)
We had three different principals in the 6 years that I was there, and this year they are breaking in another. If the principal isn't strong and a good leader the teachers have a much harder time. So much so that several very strong teachers decided to retire( unfortunately the ones who should have retired didn't).
My daughter is changing schools for high school, and while I am intimidated by a inner city school with 1100 more students than her previous one, I am really energized by the opportunity to be involved with such a strong, diverse community.
and no I am not for vouchers cause it has been our experience that if a school has economic diversity as a goal, they already have good financial aid programs. Adding vouchers won't help.

By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:01 am: Edit

I don't think I get respect b/c my kids are above average. But it helps that some of my younger S's teachers are the same as those who taught my older S (and he did not leave a bad impression!). I am very aware that the access parents have in their schools vary enormously from school to school and from district to district. But I also know of parents who are very involved precisely b/c their kids are struggling. For example, when a dean of students (who handles discipline) retired a couple of years ago, a student who'd been having discipline problems rose up to pay tribute to that dean, talking about the many times he'd ended up in that dean's office and getting lectured. But he said he knew that the dean had kep him going to school and learning instead of dropping out. At the end of that speech, there were not a lot of dry eyes among teachers and parents.

We do have parents nights and we also have conferences with teachers that are scheduled twice a year. Not every parent shows up, of course. We were the only parents who met with our S''s graphic arts teacher. She is young and enthusiastic and she was thrilled! We got to learn more about the course, about discipline problems in the class, as well as how our son was doing, etc...
We have many GCs compared to other schools. Our GCs'load is about 2o0, which is great for a public high school; so this allows GCs to get to know their students.
I just wanted to observe that things differ greatly from district to district; I don't know that having a strong teachers' union is the key factor.

By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:07 am: Edit

The cheapest private school in our area, except for parochial schools, costs $20k. There's no way that vouchers could cover those costs. A charter school was founded about ten years ago by parents of minorities who claimed that their children were not well served by their elementary schools (despite voluntary desegregation since 1981). But the school has been performing worse than the public elementary school and has been put on the state's list of underperforming schools.
The problem with our high school is not that it's resistant to change. It is that it's constantly changing. As for elementary schools, no two are the same in their curriculum or pedagogical philosophy.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:09 am: Edit

What you describe depends greatly upon the schools. With rare exceptions, I have found the teachers and much of the administration in my sons' public schools to be very willing to work with parents.

In terms of volunteering at the high school level, at first it was difficult because the teachers didn't seem to know what to ask the parents to do. The teachers/administration seemed to think that they themselves should bare sole responsibity for things like field trips and other events that could have used parent input.

Once the teachers and administrators saw, however, what parents were capable of doing, they have been very willing to work with parents and to let parents do as much as parents were willing to do. Since many parents have professional level skills in areas where the school could benefit from volunteers, using parents has helped greatly in expanding programming, fundraising, etc.

Another area that initially there were problems with was that the school didn't do a good job of communicating with parents. Now there's a listerv, regular newsletter and other things that make it easier for parents to become involved and to stay connected with the school. Before that, teachers seemed to think that just because they and perhaps the students knew about events, parents knew, too.

By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:18 am: Edit


Google Belmont, MA high school. It's got a great website, which shows lots of parental involvement. It's where I found the list of things to bring to college which I posted on CC some time ago.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:24 am: Edit

Another area that initially there were problems with was that the school didn't do a good job of communicating with parents. Now there's a listerv, regular newsletter and other things that make it easier for parents to become involved and to stay connected with the school. Before that, teachers seemed to think that just because they and perhaps the students knew about events, parents knew, too.
Communication is the biggest factor IMO.
Daughters new school has great website with daily updates from principals office, plus websites for school groups & several teachers, PTA newsletter both mailed and in PDF, student newspaper and magazine, mailed with subscription and available at school,Edline, which is going to be used to view students schedule/class syllabus, lots of volunteer positions, very involved and visible parent group. ( Which is why we transferred, former school we couldn't get principal to recognize the reason for a weekly newsletter from office, let alone a daily report. )
Schools really need parents these days,not only to support their student but to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for staff, materials and help in and out of classroom. They are really hurting themselves when they alienate parents

By Originaloog (Originaloog) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:09 am: Edit

Since the issue of vouchers has come up let me give you my take on it. As it stand now I am agianst vouchers because the playing field is not a level one. Private schools can skim off the cream of the public crop and get paid for it by the public. That aint fair!

I would be for vouchers under the following ground ruled however. For a private school to be qualified to accept voucher students, it would be required to accept ALL students who applied, even those diagnosed with learning/physical/emotional disabilites which could be mainstreamed into the school. The private school could not use testing in the seletion of any student(ie voucher or full tuition students). If there were more voucher students than slots then they would be picked by lottery. Full-tuition students could be exempted from the lottery, however students could not choose to be reclassified as a full tuition student if they failed to be successful in the lottery. And the lottery would be conduted jointly by representatives of the private school and local school board. Private schools would also be subject to the same testing requirements as the local publics and the results publically released in the same fashion. Additional compensation would be provided to the private school for extra staffing needed by classified students receiving vouchers.

I believe that this would level the playing field enough to make vouchers an acceptable alternative for me.

By Idiias (Idiias) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:20 am: Edit

And I think above all, you all need to remember:

"The public school is the greatest discovery of mankind." -Horace Mann

Thank You.

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:21 am: Edit

Originaloog: imho you have some good and interesting ideas on this topic

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:25 am: Edit

goodie, goodie: who wants to debate the *ideas* of Horace Mann? Well, I for one would love too but actually don't have time at the moment LOL

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 02:52 pm: Edit

Emeraldkity4; Did you say this is a public school? That is pretty impressive for a public school.
Marite;I said it before and say it again the educational system of MA is pretty good compared with PA.There is a school district in MA with the same name as ours and initially I felt our web site was much better until I actually read the MA site carefully. There was so much detail and substance and academic advice. Our site was bright colors and broad statements, their site details in black and white which stunned me as being pretty sophistocated thought, like college . So I came away thinking the MA school was pretty tough and I would not like it, that who needs high school that hard? Am I wrong about this? One other factor is the liberalism in MA public schools.Let me tell you I'm pretty uncomfortable about it.Think I might run to a Catholic school if we lived in MA!

By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 03:08 pm: Edit

My district is pretty liberal, but I would not make a blanket statement about all districts, just as I would not make a blanket statement about all public schools throughout the country on the basis of my experience with one district's.
My purpose in pointing out the Belmont, MA website was to show how much parents can be involved in their school from fund-raising to providing tips about what to bring to college, cheering their sports and academic teams, etc... Belmont is a wealthy suburb full of highly educated folks. It is not to be confused with Lawrence, MA or many other districts in MA with many immigrants from different countries and dying industries. Belmont, MA parents are obviously not kept away from their school. But neither are they in lower income communities. If anything, schools in these lower-income communities tend to fret about lack of parents'involvement rather than the opposite.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 03:33 pm: Edit

Interesting.Another interesting factor about MA is how spread out it all is as compared with SE PA. We live in a conjested region. I really was stunned to see all the open space in MA. Mybe if there is more open space students are inclined to work harder?I also failed to mention the similar named school district has 1/4 the students our district has. I consider that a dream situation!Didn't you say your guidance counsellor has 200 students? That is the same as we here.
We are entirely different from Belmont MA- we have much more diversity. I looked at it.And the parent involvement, not at all to that extent. I think the teachers are happy with their situation here! They are paid pretty well!

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 03:47 pm: Edit

ya this is an inner city public school albeit with the highest number of AP classes in the state so that it attracts pretty motivated parents who are involved in the school.
It is still a pretty tough school by that I mean a big school with students who have diverse needs. Some students unforunately have not had a great amount of prep before high school and the school has to remedy that. My daughters class 2008, will have to pass an exit exam to graduate. SHe has never passed any of the sections of the test except for listening which I understand is being phased out. The state also just "rescored" the test, so that a percentage of students who previously did not pass, now do so. ( ?)
Some great programs at the schoool,
most notably the music dept,although my daughter doesn't play an instrument- at least she will be exposed to it and I am going to do everything I can to help my daughter find her niche.
She worked hard at her previous school, and I would have loved to stay in a smaller environment, but I am hoping that a bigger school will provide her more choice of opportunities.
I have already seen a difference in the energy of the teachers. THey have to be energetic! As far as I can tell the 9th grade counselor has about 400 students!

By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 04:08 pm: Edit

Belmont is a suburb and is overwelmingly white, middle class and affluent. If your district is not surburban, it is unfair to compare the two; and I did not mean to suggest comparisons, just to point out how parents can be involved and be welcomed by schools for their involvement. My district is urban and much more diverse; many parents are involved at different levels. Teachers--at least in my district and in Belmont, are paid quite well.
Your original post, however, was not about teacher pay or satisfaction, but about the lack of receptivity to parental involvement. On this issue, I would expect Catholic schools, which are highly regarded here, would not be more receptive to parental input than public schools. They do a good job and they expect parents to stand back and let them do the job.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 04:15 pm: Edit

In my daughters private school parents were welcomed but mainly as fundraisers. Tuition only paid 80% of expenses. As finaid was a priority as are decent teacher pay, supplies etc. fundraising was very important. We didn'tneed to be involved in the day to day stuff cause kids were handpicked, small class sizes and fantastic teachers. While a few especially motivated and talented parents have taken volunteer positions at school and turned them into paying positions that now they wouldn't do without, most of involvment was after hours and everyone was happy with that.
Public schools especially urban public schools are much more needy. The squeaky wheel gets the grease applies to public schools but you have to do a lot more than squeak!

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 07:29 pm: Edit

Emeraldkity4;Did you have to take a test to get into this public school?Phila. has a performing Arts high school, stunning, a newly remodeled old library, and it's difficult to get into, must audition and they dont take everyone. Also they have a fabulous high school where the standards are high and it's very difficult to get into also, hard classes and C's not acceptable once there.There is a waiting list. I would call you most fortunate to make this change into a good public school. Please let me know how it turns out.The only thing I might be worried about is the safety factor. Is it fairly safe?Or to be seen?Also new friends, it difficult to make that shift into a new group of friends.
Marite;Oh I see what you are saying! No, it's surburban but diverse .Parents making a difference or just tolerated.Here they are just tolerated.If you have a smaller student body, tighter budget, and educated parents and if they always played an important part at the school, can see how that would work in MA. On the other hand, if the district has always prided itself on their fabulous large well paid staff and has control of the township, they can afford not to be nice, not return a phone call, they are secure in their position. The administration likes it the way it is.It is interesting to see the degree to which an active parent group can really influence a school district though.

By Marite (Marite) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 07:44 pm: Edit

Interesting how the prevailing culture differs so much in different districts.
What about your school board? Is it elected? Can't its members demand greater responsiveness?
The fact is that our district has a large well paid staff, etc..., but everybody from the superintendent on down returns e-mails, phone-calls, etc... It does not mean that everybody is happy about what they hear, but parents are not kept out or uninformed. Last year, the high school initiated visits to subsidized housing where many immigrant families live because it realized that these families either were not aware of meetings or could not afford to come to the meetings.

By Kjofkw (Kjofkw) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 08:47 pm: Edit

Our public district is very small (about 100 per class). Parental involvement is very high. However, I saw most parents were primarily involved with sports and music, and very little with academics.

When my son first started the public school at 9th grade (coming from parochial schools), I charged in, guns blazing, with ideas, suggestions, etc. That was my experience during K-8. My enthusasiam at the high school level was not welcomed. I found that the "status quo" was everything.

However, over time, I became involved, and positively (I hope) added to school programs and the classroom through the PTA. I believe once they saw my committment (and yes tenacity), they became more receptive to future suggestions, and even more open with me.

I also became more sensative to the constraints and politics found at the school (tenures, teacher contracts, etc.). Sometimes it just takes time, to earn the respect of each other, and 4 years is relatively short, unfortunately.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 08:57 pm: Edit

test hmm.
kinda let me explain
It is an innercity school that has been on the list for renovation since my mom went there, ( which was a couple years before Quincy Jones and a looong time before Jimi), but it is still waiting its turn.
The district has two "gifted" or "accelerated" or whatever you want to call it programs. Spectrum is for the top whatever %( 10?) and is in many different schools, the program really changes depending on principal and teachers. APP is the top nth ( 3?) and is in one elementary school which essentially has only APP kids along with self contained special ed kids. THe middle school program for APP has Spectrum but also APP students, and I beleive classes are seperate. THey also have a few neighborhood kids. APP ends at end of middle school. However APP students(from Washington) have priority ( informal) over even students from the neighborhood surrounding Garfield. While you don't need to test to get into Garfield, group acheivement testing is how students are placed into APP and Spectrum. Individual tests are only considered if placement is denied and parents want to appeal.
I don't think group testing is a good measure of giftedness, and I felt that if that is what is needed to be indentified then my oldest who scored in the top .03% on the Standford Binet but did not qualify through the school district testing, wouldnt fit in their program.
Garfield does have a lot of AP classes, but supposedly they want everyone to take at least one, and try and prepare them so that , that is a possiblity. My(younger)daughter who did have an IEP, but which wasn't followed at her old school, and now just has a 504 ( which isn't really sped anymore) has a class that is going to help her catch up in her math and writing areas at the same time she is scheduled for honors history and english.
I have heard lots for years about what a good school it is, and it is certainly going to be a challenging environment, but it has good energy about it, and a school like Garfield is why we are in the city and not in the suburbs like my sister in Bellevue.( although it is more diverse than when we grew up over there)
I also think Garfield is probably safe enough but I am getting my daughter a prepaid cell phone that can recieve text messages. They had 18 lockdowns last year and while I think many are probably the equivalent of pulling the firealarm with the rowdy population, I want her to have the security of a cell. Re: friends. Her friends are soo important to her, but it is a huge school. She has two best friends who are attending the same school but one of them is only in one of her classes and the other isn't in any. However she has some good teachers and she does know quite a few other kids from her previous smaller school that I hope will help her make the transition. Garfield also has a mentor prgram that matches upper classmen with about 4 or 5 9th graders to help them make transition. That should help as should having the support class being taught by the head of the English and math depts. They will get to know her in a smaller environment and hopefully help to advocate for her.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 10:16 pm: Edit

It really depends on the school and the staff at the school. There are plenty of private schools that are not as responsive as they should be, believe me, I have seen them. And they can cost a fortune. You get the wrong person in the wrong department and you are unlucky enough to have him as your kid's advisor or counselor and it can be rough.

One big problem with some public schools is that the counselor/student ration can be terrible. And sometimes the counselor is in charge of a host of issues, not just college placement. When the counseling dept is dealing with issues like teen pregnancy, dropout rates, juvenile delinquency, child abuse along with colleges, you can see where the priorities need to be placed. Also if your child is interested in a spread of schools where the high school has little experience, you may have to end up guiding the counselor. But public schools often have the best handle on the local and state schools as they have a lot of experience on how kids with specific stats fare in admissions at these schools. If you are on the east coast and want info on small colleges in the midwest or west, you may well be out of luck and have to do your own leg work.

The good news with many of these overworked counselors is that you can pretty much "write" your own reference. Believe me, if you send a cover letter with a resume telling the counselor your achievements, the letter will be heavily used in the writing of the reference as the counselor will appreciate having this help. When you go to a small private school there are often things put in those references that you may not want or need. There are disadvantages to familiarity.

By Mimk6 (Mimk6) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 01:56 pm: Edit

I think parent groups are important in high school. I'm the president of the one at our school and we do far more advocacy than fundraising. We have pressured the school on a whole range of issues from safety and security to teachers who were failing in the classroom. We've met with school board members, and officials above our principal when occasion called for it (i.e. issues that are beyond his control and come from above). I think it makes a big difference because they (school and district) know they are accountable. We have monthly meetings, a monthly newsletter, an e-mail loop -- they know the parents will act as a group if the school isn't responsive. All in all, I think the school is more responsive even on an individual basis. The faculty and staff are appreciative of some of the things we've accomplished and it makes them want to keep the parent community happy.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 03:23 pm: Edit

Parents are very important in high school I agree. Parents tend to be so busy with their own work by that point, but I think the school pays more attention to the kids whose parents are able to be involved, and the kids notice when their parents are involved and even though they may complain I think they appreciate it.
Unfortunately the students who really need parent involvement, often have parents who are intimidated whether by language barriers, class barriers or what have you with the school so they don't get involved. It is really a cultural barrier, I have spoken to several families from the black community about how we can increase involvement with the schools, they have said that they don't "trust" the school to give their kids a fair shake so they stay away. Now this makes me more likely to be involved, but what I hear them saying is, they feel like their participation doesn't matter.
Now the school where she is going starting wednesday has two parent groups, one PTA for the whole school and one group to put special attention on africian american issues. Now I admit at first I thought " What?" "they" can't be involved in the regular PTA so they make their "own" group? I do now think it is a good idea however, there are still competent students being accused of acting "white" if they do well at school, as well as students who are being shuttled into lesser classes because they dress like LL cool J.( and have the vocab of Enimem) Even my daughter best friend, who has a black father, had to fight with the school to get place in an appropriate math class. ( both her parents have college degrees and her paternal grandmother was a teacher in Ohio for many years- she has a stronger academic background than we do). The assumption that "black" kids are doing good just to make it to class is really frustrating.( wow I really got off track)
Anyway- ya parents are important, if it wasn't for parents, we wouldn't even know that virtually all the Seattle public schools had a lead problem in drinking water ( and had, had for years)

By Patient (Patient) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 05:09 pm: Edit

Mimk6...we have an extremely generous and involved parent community as well (also of course more than your usual number of "difficult" or "demanding" parents). Still, there is a definite difference between the behavior of some staff at the high school versus anything I have seen at the other schools. I sometimes think that if I behaved in my business the way they treat their "customers" (whether those be students or parents), I would have been bankrupt long ago.

This is not meant to detract from the many wonderful people there. But some staff and administrators and department heads are notorious for being autocratic and unpleasant. The irony is that I think they believe they need to be that way to protect their turf or to keep away the difficult people, when in fact the opposite is true--if they were more superficially pleasant and responsive people would probably be satisfied much more quickly and would impose less.

By Momofthree (Momofthree) on Monday, September 06, 2004 - 05:35 pm: Edit

I really appreciate the thoughtful way Jamimom answers some of the concerns on this thread. I write as a school counselor, who, prior to this year, worked as the only counselor for a decade and a half in a rural public high school of over 700 students. Mercifully, I convinced the powers that be that I was not able to keep up the intense amount of testing, personal counseling, scheduling, career guidance etc, and keep my own sanity, and we now have a second counselor. I can assure you that despite the stress, I did my best to attend to the needs of the seniors moving toward college. It is a fact that most of my students attend state schools, and that on the rare occasion that one leaves the state to study elsewhere, I have been beside myself with excitement. My own D, who graduated from a wonderful school (out of state) had the benefit of her private school counselor's experiences (and the fact that this counselor had "only" 60 seniors to help.) Still, I think I am not alone in the public school counselor world in having a real interest in what is out there . . . though I know all schools are uneven in commitment of faculty. For what it is worth, I care a lot! After all, am I not pretty addicted to this forum? (LOL) I am pretty sure that S, who is a senior, would love it if I quit referring to CC!!
This forum has given me an opportunity to share in the wisdom and experience of those who deal with matters critical to helping students succeed in the whole college process. I knew a lot coming in, but have gained so much through the thoughtful responses of so many.

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