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Opinion Letters How to improve our schools

Right now there will be many playing the "Blame Game" over the below average performance in student testing by the Macon County School. Usually teachers and parents each blame the other. Administrators blame inadequate funding, etc.

Here is an suggestion on how to improve the quality of education in Macon County: From kindergarten through at least the eighth grade, require that a parent accompany their child through a full day of school once a month, strictly as an observer. (Considerations would be needed for parents with multiple children as well as allowances for those with physical impairment.) This would place a parent in each classroom, all day, almost every day. A clearly labeled “Parent” seat should be provided in the back of each classroom. Both parents should be encouraged to attend and an evaluation should be requested at the conclusion of each visit. On each report card, there should be a grade for the attendance of the parent - passing or failing.

Such a program would promote parental involvement in both their child’s education as well as the performance of our schools. There may be resistance from teachers who are uncertain of their performance, but good teachers will welcome more parental involvement.

Once when I was teaching high school in coastal North Carolina, we has a principal who entered classrooms often, without an appointment. I would look up - and there he was - seated in the rear of the room, having slipped in the back door. Usually I had no idea how long he had been there.

Sure, it momentarily unnerved me, but I was confident of what I was doing and the principal is supposed to be a master teacher, right? So I’d just welcome him and plow on! The next morning there was always a note in my mailbox with his observations and encouragement for the future. (This principal also did scheduled, formal evaluations.) He was truly an excellent administrator. The majority of the teachers hated this, and the union fought to stop these “unscheduled evaluations.” I still feel that he was the boss and he was there to help me.

However, in eight years of middle and high school teaching I had fewer than five parents attend a class with their child. Yes, I met many of them at Parent-Teacher Organization functions in the evening, but almost none during the day. A parent should be made welcome in their child’s classroom anytime, with little or no advance notice. We must get more parents involved in the educational system if we are to improve quality.

Tom Hill — Franklin, N.C.





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published: 10/18/2013
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