The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 19, 2013

Parents key to school success


DANVILLE — District 118 school officials want the public’s input on an application for a possible $6 million grant designed to help boost student achievement. Another public session is set for 7:30 a.m. today in the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St.

Officials have discussed teacher training, updates in technology and increasing the time students can study in class.

All could help improve student scores. But the grant can’t address perhaps the most common cause of poor student achievement: parental apathy.

Small classes, good technology and increased class time will do little to prevent a parent’s lack of interest — and expectations — in his or her child’s academic performance from counteracting the schools’ efforts.

If parents don’t care whether their children learn, children will not learn. Period.

Every case is different, of course, but in general a parent who is involved in his or her child’s education will do more to improve test scores than an extra 15 minutes in class and extra teacher training ever can hope to accomplish.

There once was a day when parents understood a child’s success in the classroom translated into the success for that child as an adult. If grades went sour, the child was taken to task at home. Now if grades or test scores sink, far too many parents blame someone else for the problem. To find fault elsewhere allows them to fool themselves they are still being good parents. They are not.

Maybe there’s a way for school districts to reach out to parents, especially to parents whose children are just entering school to convince them of the importance of encouraging and expecting good academic work in the classroom.

Without the parents’ help, a lot of hard work on the schools’ part will simply be wasted.