There is the impression that while parents are assets to the district in elementary school, they become problems by high school. Rumors of parents interfering with teachers, arguing about grades, threatening lawsuits and more are always making the rounds. If this is true, what should the school board do to address this situation?
Both candidates for HPISD Board of Trustees, PL 7 - Sam Dalton and Amy Titus were asked to answer the above question.
Sam Dalton’s Answer
I believe that this is a community issue, not a school board issue. The school district and its school board cannot legislate good manners and common sense, nor can they teach parents how to be parents. Therefore, the school board should not do anything to address this situation. Instead, the community of parents is the proper body to take action. Parents need to govern parents, and hold them accountable.
One of the things that sets the Park Cities apart from other places is the positive involvement of parents, both with their time and their money. We have an exemplary school system because we have exemplary parents.
With kids at three different campuses, it’s my experience that there is no significant difference between parental involvement at the elementary school, middle school or high school level -- parents do what they feel is best for their child at every level. Perhaps the community hears more about these things at the high school level because of the perception (whether right or wrong) that there is more at stake as kids get closer to college.
My wife and I share the philosophy that parents should prepare their kid for the path, not prepare the path for their kid. While we sometimes wander from this goal, we recognize that anything short of this is doing a disservice to our four children.
Our schools should partner with parents and the rest of the community to produce happy, well-educated, productive and well-adjusted members of society. As parents, what more can we ask?
Please get involved and take the time to vote on May 14.
Amy Titus’s Answer
Stories do circulate about specific problem parents but rarely circulate about the much larger number of great parents. So, it is easy to focus on the exceptions.
HPISD is very blessed to have a group of parents who have the interest, time and ability to support the schools with countless volunteer hours as well as generous financial support through the various fundraising channels. This can bring the parents into very close contact with the teachers. As a parent it can be difficult to know when and how much to start letting go.
I have asked many of the teachers that I have come in contact with in HP if the over involved parents are a deterrent to teaching in the district and I have been pleasantly surprised that they consider our parents to be helpful and not a problem. I do not see this problem as overwhelming or widespread.
How Parents Address These Issues
There is a very fine line between nurturing and hovering and between letting a teen have some room to grow and not setting appropriate boundaries. We all struggle with this at times as a parent. While it is totally appropriate to know what a first grader’s homework assignments are and to even look over the finished product, we often don’t even know if our college freshman is attending class.
There has to be a gradual handing over of the responsibility to our children for their education and while it may be tempting to step in and try to fix things, we have to give them the tools to solve their own problems. The issue of over involved parents is not unique to our area, but much more widespread as the same issues have been written up in national publications regarding college students. Sadly, overinvolved parents are more of a long term problem for their own children rather than for the school district.
How the School Board Addresses These Issues
The job of the school board is to set policy, not micro manage the school system. The school board is responsible for hiring a competent administration and any conflict between students/parents and teachers should go to that administration. The board should not second-guess individual decisions made by administrators, rather they need to look at the sum total of the administration’s performance and make any decisions needed when putting or keeping that administration in place.
The school board has to let the administration and in turn the teachers know that they have the authority to do their jobs without fear that they will be told to reverse a decision. As a district, we need to continue to put qualified personnel in place and then give them the authority and courage to do their jobs.
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