16th 2012
Let’s Respect and Empower Parents with Choices, Not Look Down on Them

Posted under Edublogging & Independence Institute & Parents & PPC & School Choice & Teachers

From the files of “Did she really say that?” comes a post written a few days ago by Diane Ravitch, under the heading: “Do parents always know what is best?” Ravitch extensively quotes a Louisiana teacher, who hardly wins friends and influences people with this opener:

I am tired of this attitude about parents knowing what is best for their children. Parents are easily swayed by politicians, talk show hosts and preachers. They rarely understand how schools work unless they are teachers themselves or have relatives who are teachers….

Yes, that is patronizing. Even worse, it can lead to a lot of dangerous and misguided policy conclusions. It’s hard to put it much better than has Victor Skinner of EAG News:

Let’s get this straight: Since some parents are dopes and will make poor decisions for their kids, all parents should have their rights limited?

That’s not how America works.

We can’t write off all parents’ ability to make a researched decision on where to send their children to school because some “starve, beat, tie up, and rape their children.”

We’re a country of freedom and responsibility, and the public education model until recently has gone against the grain. We’ve been told what to do….

Do parents always know best, as Ravitch frames the issue? No, of course not. But the fact that they know and love their children best of all certainly puts them at a distinct advantage, and gives them a great starting point from which to make informed decisions. While they may go to a doctor for help, sometimes they need to step out and demand a second opinion. If it’s true for a child’s health and dealing with the medical profession, how much more so for educational needs and consulting with teachers?

Is there a real fear that our education system predominately leans in the direction of honoring parent authority at the expense of other interest groups and priorities? Hardly. Just like we shouldn’t design entire instructional policies to accommodate the worst 5 percent of teachers, there’s absolutely no reason to dismiss the concept of school choice because a small number of parents are abusive or completely irresponsible.

Rather than taking a negative attitude, let’s focus on raising the bar. Empowering parents in many cases also includes educating them. And that’s one of the purposes of my Education Policy Center friends’ unique and fantastic School Choice for Kids website.


4 Responses to “Let’s Respect and Empower Parents with Choices, Not Look Down on Them”

  1. Gary Scofield on 07 Sep 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Excellent point and response to an over tired problem facing our educational systems. I do give the response credit in the area of “School’s of Choice” but many a School District calls their School’s “Neighborhood or Community Schools” with no parent or citizen input or involvement in what or how subjects are taught. As a retireed Public School Teacher I could donate not only my time and experiences to the School accross the street from my home but my Colorado School District totally discourages any kind of input or help from me and parents. My District even has local rules against hiring anyone like me in any capacity at their “Home Schools” to help educate its students. The comment that created this article is truely “sad” but the problem is much larger than just involving parents in educational decisions.

  2. Ed is Watching » “Won’t Back Down” Sept. 27 Colorado Screening Highlights Parent Power on 17 Sep 2012 at 10:47 am #

    [...] a month ago, I pointed out to you the somewhat disturbing views of parents held by certain figures within the education [...]

  3. Ed is Watching » Change of Heart on Choice, Reform, Funding, and Unions: Time for Ed Is Playing!! on 01 Apr 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    [...] it comes to education, I’ve come to agree with Diane Ravitch that parents don’t really know what is best for kids. They should leave it all up to the experts in the classroom and the school district administration [...]

  4. Ed is Watching » Three Decades After “A Nation at Risk,” Incredible Theories Live On: Who Knew? on 29 Apr 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    [...] you guessed Diane Ravitch, you are correct! Yes, that Diane Ravitch… and that one, too. Maybe she could go on Sesame Street to do a few segments with Big Bird [...]

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