Monday, January 02, 2012


Duh, duh, duhhhhh. Parents who distrust public schools and don't think they are able to help their children overcome poverty and illiteracy don't attend parent-teacher conferences anywhere near as often as middle- and high-income parents. Parents of kids who are doing well or at least OK in school come to the conferences full of hope that their kiddies will not only make it into college, but excel there. It's a lot easier to vote with your feet when you're feeling positive about school.

Here's a long, scholarly article about it, though this stuff isn't rocket science:


The World-Herald published a good chart today that showed the direct link between parent-teacher conference attendance and school poverty characteristics. The schools in the 'burbs had statewide reading assessment scores exceeding 85%, conference attendance rates of 80% or better., and relatively low rates of poverty.

Meanwhile, the inner-city basket case schools have much higher poverty rates, only 30 percent or so of their kids reading at grade level, and dismal conference attendance rates by inner-city parents of 12.5% to 15.6%.

Everybody's wringing their hands about those "deadbeat" inner-city parents, since we all know that parental involvement is a huge correlate to student success. But it's no surprise why they don't show up.

How come schools don't "get it," that people don't like to come to a place where they're going to get scolded and feel emotionally beat up -- to hear year after year that their kid isn't cutting the mustard -- to see their child's best hope for a future smashed into the ground because the schools have failed to teach the kid to read well enough to do well in school?

When school does its basic mission -- teach kids to read, write and figure -- then parents will show up.

When will schools learn that the best way to get conference attendance up over 80% is to scrap that lousy Whole Language reading junk, and teach kids to read and write with intensive, explicit, systematic phonics?

Remember, close to 100% of the kids in a phonics-ONLY kindergarten classroom -- even a half-day program -- at all income levels, even in the poorest neighborhoods -- are reading by Christmas of the kindergarten year. Phonics is far, far cheaper, takes only about 20 minutes a day, and it's a real head-banger why OPS didn't go for it many, many years ago.

Maybe NOW . . . just to get those conference attendance rates up? Stranger things have happened.

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