There are many reasons why parents may, and should, want to get involved in their child’s education. According to Johns Hopkins University, good communication between parents and teachers is linked to a reduction in student absences. Additional research shows successful parent involvement improves student behavior. Furthermore, the best predictor of academic achievement in students is the extent to which parents and other family members encourage learning at home and involve themselves in their child’s education overall. Obviously, we want parents to be engaged in their child’s school lives so they have the at-home support needed to be successful in the classroom. However, issues can arise when parents become overly involved in their child’s education.
One of the best examples of taking parental involvement in education to the negative extreme would be an angry parent screaming at a school board meeting about some miniscule issue that really bears very little (if any) impact on their child’s schooling in the first place. In 2021, this looks like parents furiously yelling at Board of Education members in front of a crowd, whether it be about mask mandates in schools or the teaching of critical race theory in the classroom. Such a sight is all too common nowadays. In fact, the National School Boards Association asked President Joe Biden and the federal government in a letter at the beginning of October for help investigating threats against school board members and educators stemming from parental anger over such hot topics. Thus, the NSBA requested that the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service and its National Threat Assessment Center better assess the risk level public schoolchildren, educators, school board members and campuses face.
The fact that the NSBA is begging for protection from enraged parents is unfortunate. These angry outbursts are only detrimental to students in the long run, and funny videos of angry parents yelling in supposedly-civil meetings or protesting outside their child’s school speak volumes. Simply put, these parents are taking the focus off the children and their educations and placing it on themselves.
It’s not that I think these parents are genuinely trying to harm their kids. I choose to believe they personally think they are doing the right thing. However, intentions lose all meaning when your impact is harming others in practice. “Wanting what is best for my child” is not an excuse for making a public scene and ending up on the nightly news. Acting as such at school board meetings, which are generally meant to increase accountability and transparency in public administration, is not the way to solve the issues with the American education system. Threatening harm toward school board members in this setting will only lead to closed meetings as a safety precaution (and rightfully so), effectively cutting everyone off from an important public forum.
The way to get involved in your child’s education is to join the PTA. Additionally, you should read the correspondence teachers are likely sending out and ask them what the students are currently learning about. Turn your home into an extension of the classroom by practicing the skills being taught at school. Respectfully attend school events with your child. However, outlandishly protesting simple policies (like mask mandates that only have the intention of protecting your child) just to make a scene does not benefit your child. Yes, you should be your child’s first and biggest advocate. But that requires focusing on what is actually best for them — not small things you personally have a disagreement with. Support your child and their education from the sidelines rather than the spotlight. Don’t make it about you.