A very quick history of public education and exclusion of parents from school matters. William Cutler, in his book — Parents and Schools: The 150-year Struggle for Control in American Education — wrote that parents and schools get along well as long as it is on the terms of the system. Never the other way around.
The same indictment applies in Canada.
In 1980 Simon Fraser University in BC put on a conference — Family Choice, Schooling and the Public Interest. The brochure had this quote:
* “It is the business of education in our social democracy to eliminate the influence of parents on the life-chances of the young. “- Professor F. Musgrove, The Family, Education and Society, 1966.
Even as such conferences play at staging important topics, this one undoubtedly did more as a caution against growing parent assertiveness for choices than for any wide “public interest”. But, of course, as seen entirely from the eyes of the industry, the “public interest” can only happen if the industry is in control.
The question still remains — Is education a state responsibility or the duty of parents?
Of course parents, who have been usurped from their primary role in education, still do get lip service and tokenism. Or, the opportunity to fund-raise ! It’s all symbolic use of parents.
The literature is full of arguments why parents should be involved.. This is why the system continues its overtures and even jacked up efforts from involvement to participation to engagement.
What parents should really be striving for is more driving the system. The idea of Education Savings Accounts which is now a reality in a number of US states, going far beyond charter schools, is what parents should be promoting. This is where for a lesser than total allocation per child, perhaps 90%, the parent can start an education account from which to draw for selected education offerings and services according to the best interests of the child.
It’s partly remorse from upstaging parents at every turn, and partly the public relations literature that is propelling more pretenses at welcoming parents. Equity and social justice are not being served by government schools finding busy-work for parents. Nor is the education mission more fulfilled from superficial parent involvement.