DSM: More Than Grades: How Choice Boosts Parental Involvement and Benefits Children

From: David Rovner (rovners@netvision.net.il)
Date: Mon Jul 02 2001 - 16:34:43 EDT


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PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE TAUGHT LAW OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Education Secretary Rod Paige told the nation's largest teachers' union
Saturday that public school teachers are competing for business with
private schools, charter schools, home schools and others, according to
Fox News. ( http://foxnews.com/story/0,2933,28545,00.html )

"Public schools are no longer the only show in town," he said. "This is a
challenge that all of us must confront."

In remarks prepared for delivery to the National Education Association's
annual meeting in Los Angeles, Paige said unsolved problems plaguing
public schools have given rise to increasingly tough competition from
private, parochial and charter schools, as well as from families who
educate their children at home, leaving schools with fewer tax dollars.

"It is tempting to pretend that public schools are exempt from the law of
supply and demand," said Paige, the former superintendent of the Houston
Independent School District. "This pretension will destroy the system."

In "Toward Market Education: Are Vouchers or Tax Credits the Better Path?"
( http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-392es.html ) Andrew J. Coulson notes
that "education markets have consistently done a better job than state
monopolies of serving both our individual needs and our communal goals."

In "More Than Grades: How Choice Boosts Parental Involvement and Benefits
Children," ( http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-383es.html ) Philip Vassallo
argues that "The ultimate key to school reform is the parent. Once parents
assume the responsibility of advocating for and supporting their
children's education, they will become partners with educators to create
the schools their children need."

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Cato Policy Analysis No. 383 October 26, 2000

More Than Grades:
How Choice Boosts Parental Involvement and
Benefits Children
by Philip Vassallo

Philip Vassallo is an educational consultant and writer. His work has been published in
the American School Board Journal, Principal, Young Children, and Day Care and
Elementary Education. Vassallo holds a doctorate in educational theory from Rutgers
University.
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Executive Summary

Research shows that parental involvement in a child's education is a strong predictor
of student achievement: typically, the more involved the parent, the better off the
child. Yet the current structure of the kindergarten through 12th-grade education
system tends to marginalize parents. In most areas, government assigns children to
particular schools, and school boards and bureaucrats control textbooks, curriculum,
and other central aspects of a child's education.

Studies from school choice experiments suggest that school choice can be a
powerful engine for parental involvement - choice by its nature engenders a higher
level of parental participation than does the current system. Although a universal,
customer - driven system has not been tried, sufficient research exists to prove that
modified forms of choice - such as charter schools, vouchers, and private scholarship
programs-increase parental involvement.

Although most studies of school choice experiments have focused on academic gains
to children in choice programs, this study examines the many other benefits that
choice programs bring to students. For example, parents of children in school choice
programs (1) are more involved with their children's academic programs; (2)
participate more in school activities; (3) believe that their chosen school offers a
greater measure of safety, discipline, and instructional quality than did their previous
school; (4) are more satisfied with their children's education in a choice program; and
(5) are likely to reenroll their children in the choice program.

The ultimate key to school reform is the parent. Once parents assume the
responsibility of advocating for and supporting their children's education, they will
become partners with educators to create the schools their children need. State
legislators should seek policies that return control of education to parents through
mechanisms like tax cuts and universal tuition tax credits. The adoption of such
measures promises to increase parental involvement and bring other important
benefits to children.
 
Full Text of Policy Analysis No. 383 (PDF, 16 pgs, 80 Kb)
http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-383es.html

| Policy Analysis Index | Cato Institute Library | Cato Institute Home |

2000 The Cato Institute

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