I write about parents here from time to time. It's such a vital piece of the educational jigsaw and yet they are not visibly involved with discussions about the kinds of things impacting students: NCLB, state requirements, School Improvement Plans, and so on. This is not to say that they don't care about their kids or do things at home to help things along on an individual basis, but I wonder if it appears that school is something done to their kids rather than with kids and parents.
The coffee clutch I visit on Friday mornings is made entirely of elementary teachers. I listen to their stories of frustrations with students and parents. They often turn to me and ask if high school teachers have the same problems of students not turning work or parents in denial about student behavior (or even helicopter parents). For some reason, the teachers thought that these problems go away. On the other end of things, most high school teachers don't realize that their elementary counterparts have these issues. They don't magically appear or disappear with puberty. The elementary gang said that phone calls about classroom issues begin in kindergarten and continue on. As a classroom teacher, you might think that you are calling a parent about a problem for the first time. A parent might have already had that phone call multiple times over the years.
This observation begs a few questions. How many parents have had call after call, year after year, about their child's behaviour or lack of work ethic? At what point do you (as a parent) just start shutting out what teachers are saying to you? Do you try for awhile to help correct behaviors...or do you just give up around second grade? Were you this sort of student, too, and does that impact your view of the school?
Schools---not parents---are held acountable for student achievement. I don't think that many parents out there realize this and that it is the reason that they neglect to support their children's learning to the fullest. I realize that the feds think we can get all kids to standard without parents helping along the way, but I don't know an educator out there who thinks that's realistic. So, what do we as schools do? We need all parents to shoulder their piece of the puzzle, not just some. Do we log parent contacts over the years? How do we make those calls more positive and draw in the parents we need?