March 1 1999




1.It is difficult to question the idea of parental involvement. In fact to do so is to risk being politically incorrect. Parents and educators should be allies. Both groups have the same goal--to improve student, achievement. There is ample research to show that when parents are involved in the education of their children, those children tend to do better in school. Often they do much better. It is also true that involved parents tend to be supporters of excess levy referendum levies. They are not likely to send their kids to non-public schools. Involving parents has to be a good idea, right? Sometimes.

It is easy to make a leap of logic from the research which indicates a direct correlation between involved parents and increased student achievement to believe that parents should be decision makers in the educational process. Parents should be involved in the education of their kids. They should help them select classes. They should monitor and assist with homework. They should attend school activities. Parents should take part in the PTSA and know what is happening in the schools their kids attend. They should vote in school board elections and attend school board meetings. They should work to support programs which benefit kids.

2.Parent involvement can become a problem when parents begin to feel that they should have the ability to determine programs or run schools. I am aware of instances in the state, if not the district, where parents have virtually taken over site councils insisting on changes in the program or curriculum which they were sure would benefit kids, particularly their kids. In just a few years these same parents have moved on to other schools leaving behind the impact of their ideas.

Recently our school board made a decision to allow parents to choose whether their fifth graders would go to a middle or elementary school. 3.I'm not trying to criticize the decision. Parents were threatening to send kids to non-public schools or other districts. The school board is correct in seeking to keep kids in our school district. However, we should not forget that this decision may affect programs which are already in place and working. Questions are raised. Will middle schools now be able to maintain specialists? Will middle school student programs be reduced? Do elementary schools have adequate space? Will elementary specialists lose their rooms? Will the overall quality of education for students in grades five through eight actually be improved? I don't have the answers. Does anyone?

I feel that we have excellent programs at all of our schools. I've spent some time in our middle schools and elementary schools. I am proud of what our educators are doing. 4.I think that fifth graders would be well served at either level. The fact of the matter is however, that a decision had been made to have 5-8 schools at Woodland and Ordean. Programs were established to provide good experiences for the students. Teachers have worked hard. Administrators have worked hard. Many parents have worked hard. Kids are doing well. Now a decision has been made which may well have a negative effect on what has been accomplished.

Again, I'm not trying to be critical of the school board. They are attempting to meet the needs and desires of many diverse groups. They are trying to keep kids in the district. Yet, what may now seem to be an expedient decision may prove to be problematic. 5.One parent described herself as a "fifth grade parent." Now normally one is only the parent of a particular fifth grader for one year. Will she feel differently as a sixth grade parent? Will she be disappointed that some opportunities have been lost due to a reduction in enrollment at the middle school? Having achieved success in changing the fifth grade configuration will she and others seek the opportunity to have ninth graders stay in middle schools? Will another group of parents send their kids elsewhere because the school district cannot seem to ever make up its mind? I don't know.

I do know that with ever changing grade con-figuration it is very difficult to create a middle school program and negotiate what should constitute a middle school day. I do know that until we, meaning the big "we" of the entire district, can settle in on what educators are confident is a good middle program (including grade configuration) and stick with it, the public will have reason to doubt. I do know that we will not be able to please all parents I am still not sure what is wrong with either Ordean or Woodland. I've taught at both. I lived in the Ordean district for over twenty years. 6.My own kids went there. They did well. They had a good experience. Many of my friends have had kids attend both schools in recent years. Positive comments from them far out number negative, 7.I would much rather that instead of having parents tell the school district what is wrong with these schools, that the district do a better job of showing the parents what is right. Remember also, that we are all a part of the school district. We all need to be positive about the program at our school and other schools. Let us then show parents ways in which they may be involved in the education of their kids and ways in which they can support the schools which their kids attend.

Frank Wanner President

My Response:

1.I agree.

















2.I agree







3.Maybe not but it feels critical.










4.I agree











5.Well said.














6.And my children attended Woodland and they also did well.


7.Sometimes this is easier said than done. Especially when strikes loom and budget cuts follow. In addition I know what parents think when administrators tell them what's best for their children and its not pretty. We would do well to treat parents as customers and the customers as kings.