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Morning Round-up February 23, 2007

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Grades Rise, but Reading Skills Do Not NYT, WaPo, LAT, Wash. Times, CNN.com
High school students nationwide are taking seemingly tougher courses and earning better grades, but their reading skills are not improving through the effort, according to two federal reports released here Thursday that cite grade inflation as a possible explanation.

PTA's Go Way Beyond Cookies NYT
The transformation of Livingston’s pizza lunch reflects how parent groups across the country, especially in affluent suburbs, are undergoing a kind of corporate makeover, combining members’ business savvy, technological prowess and negotiating skills to professionalize operations.

More 'reliable' Wikipedia soon to launch eSchool News
Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is getting ready to launch a new collaborative web site. Called Citizendium, the new site will require posters to register their names and has tapped subject-matter experts to serve as content editors.

1 Comment

I read the NYTimes article on PTA. I have encountered some of these stay at home types who might have been happier in the Board Room. As a single parent, I get impatient with some of the more labor-intensive suggestions (like clipping labels from soup cans to raise money for the playground. I'd much rather just contribute a nickel for every can of soup I buy--any brand, rather than be duped into some phony brand loyalty that requires volunteers to collect, bundle and send in those labels for a pittance in return). But, I don't begrudge them their occupation.

But--I do think that there is a lesson for the perpetual hand-wringers at some of the other schools I have experienced--where there are more moms like me. I have some real expertise that I would love to share for the good of the school. As a bureaucrat, I can analyze data, write measureable goals with benchmarks and ask critical questions. My skills are not particularly welcome (as a parent)--even though NCLB specifies some specific roles for parents in developing improvement plans. I really don't put a premium on sitting through talk-down sessions on how to make sure my kids have a place to study or to make sure that they go to bed on time.

I suspect that there are plenty of parent skill sets that can be accessed, even in the lower-income more diverse schools that my kids have typically attended. But there really has to be a sea-change in how parent involvement is viewed. We need to acknowledge that when we say parent we are still talking about mothers, and that today's women have a different self-view than the Ozzie Harriet generation (although my own mom found PTA to be a waste of her time). Showing up once a week to "help" the professionals for a pat on the head is no longer where it's at. Get real about sharing the truth about what is going on--in facts and figures, and explain the status of plans to improve. Respect the parent!

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