« Welcome to K-12, Parents & the Public | Main | Nashville Chamber Starts Website to Enlist School Supporters »

Thinking 'Out of the Box' on Recruiting Parent Volunteers

A few years ago, an Ohio legislator introduced a bill requiring parents to "volunteer" in their children's schools, with noncompliant parents facing a $100 fine. Although this heavy-handed proposal was swiftly batted down, it highlights both the recognition that volunteering may benefit students and parents as well as the difficulty of getting parents to volunteer.

Appeals to volunteer for various school activities flit through parents' in-boxes almost weekly. And, as the new school year begins, principals and PTA presidents make their usual pitches for parent volunteering. At a time when education budgets are tight (and would be tighter still without the infusion of federal stimulus funding), schools need almost all the resources—human, as well as financial—that they can get.

Parent volunteering for field trips, fundraisers, classroom, and after-school activities has been associated with improvements in student grades and test scores, according to a 2005 analysis of 77 studies involving 300,000 K-6 students by William Jeynes, an education professor at Cal State-Long Beach. In middle school, students whose parents are involved in PTAs and fundraisers are more likely to go for more advanced academics in high school, another study found. Yet, it may be that students whose parents volunteer are those more likely to succeed anyway.

So, why do volunteer appeals so often fall on deaf ears? For most parents, school is about outsourcing their kids' education, socialization, and daily care; through their taxes, they're paying someone else to make schools benefit their children. For others, like those at fundraising dinners or campaign speeches, their civic adrenaline is pumped up and they think, "I want to do that; I want to make a difference," only for these feelings to fall into the gaping hole of good intentions never acted upon.

Could this change if educators and volunteer mavens better emphasized the benefits for parents, as well as their children? Parent volunteers have better access to teachers, are more in the know about their kids' education, make new friends, and signal to their children that they care. What's more, volunteers could be offered incentives such as extra meetings with teachers; awards and small gifts for top volunteers based on parent, teacher, and student voting; or even the opportunity to trade significant volunteer work for an excused absence for their children? Wouldn't this motivate kids to bug their parents to get off their duffs?

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login | Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

academic performance
alumni associations
Arnold Gesell
AT&T
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Brett Pawlowski
business
business involvement
business philanthropy
business-schools partnerships
Carol Goss
Cheryl Hines
Chris Christie
Civic Ventures
community attachment
community engagement
community involvement
Compton
Concho Valley Homeless Planning Coalition
Cory Booker
criminal record
data
Detroit
Donald Stedman
Encinal
Excellent Schools Detroit
Facebook
failing schools
Fairfax County Public Schools
family engagement
fathers
Folsom School
Foundations Inc.
Gallup
Gesell Institute
Google
Google Earth
Halloween
Harlem
Harvey Silverglate
Healthy Lifestyles
homeless children
icouldbe.org
insurance
intergenerational
Jerlean E. Daniel
Joel Klein
K-12 Partnership Report
Kate Schrauth
Knight Foundation
lawsuit
layoffs
liability
Macy's
Malcolm Gladwell
Mark Zuckerberg
Mary Guddemi
McKinney-Vento
men
mentoring
Michigan
Mike O'Neill
Million Hours of Power
Nashville
National Association for the Education of Young Children
National Center for Homeless Education
National PTA
NBC
New Jersey
New Visions for Public Schools
New Voices
New York City schools
New Yorker
Newark
OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Program
obesity
online activism
parent involvement
parent volunteers
PENCIL
Petaluma
Philadelphia School Partnership
professional development
PTAs
PTO
public engagement in schools
public opinion about schools
Purpose Prize
San Angelo
school fundraising
school involvement
School Prides
school-based mentoring
Shop for a Cause
Skillman Foundation
social media
Society for Research in Child Development
Soul of the Community
South Carolina Future Minds
student fundraising
Student Mentoring Program
students with disabilities
Terry Lundgren
training
Trip DuBard
tutoring
Twitter
Union Settlement Association
unions
volunteer
volunteering in schools
volunteers
Yale Child Study Center