And what’s in the phrase “parent involvement”?

13 07 2007

Here’s an argument I find even more convoluted than the feminist flap last month over young childless bloggers so earnestly trying to help stay-at-homeschool moms by calling us unpaid domestic labor

Blogger mom Judith Warner of “Domestic Disturbances” sees that parent involvement in kids’ schooling and other activities is variable based on work schedules and demographics. It seems kids of all demographics wish their moms and/or dads could be with them more.

See “Visiting Day” and note she tags her post with “parental guilt, showing up, working parents.”

I say great, let’s address it then — it’s worth helping families even if we have to change the whole culture to integrate learning with daily life, rather than isolating learning and working away from families and homes.

So that what she’s arguing for, right?

HA! No, this prominent supposedly-thinking mom says our whole culture needs to change indeed, but in the opposite direction, to further isolate kids away from their parents, to systematically keep even the best, most dedicated and productively present proud parents OUT of their own kids’ daytime learning and activities.

Why?

Because kids feel bad when their parents have to work.

So, if you can’t bring enough parent involvement for the whole class, don’t allow any for anyone. Level the playing field by taking all the kids away from all the parents, all day long. Parents can see ’em after homework at night and have weekend visitation, otherwise they are creatures of the State and that’s the only fair thing to do.

We need to push back against the trend toward excessive and inappropriate parental involvement that weighs so heavily upon families in certain communities. We should start by requesting – ever so politely – that school events requiring parental participation be scheduled in the evening. Or on weekends. And not too often at that.

Let’s get parents out of their school-aged kids’ 9-to-3 lives. It’s a cost-free solution to one of the major sources of family angst today.

No worries for my kids of course, or yours — experienced Thinking Parents schooling or not, can afford to laugh at society’s urge to dictate our family time, much less our family values or level of involvement with our own children. We already refused to be part of sacrificing our own on these perverse policy pyres.

What does worry me though, is that this can be proposed as serious commentary to solve our serious social problems. It’s a bad sign imo, if credible liberal thought from our nation’s cultural and journalistic capital is this fatally misguided on family and education policy. The schools have been thoroughly socialized (how’s that working for ya? as Dr. Phil would say) so noblesse oblige now dictates that the next step is to socialize parenting itself, turn it over to community controls both legal and cultural?

It’s like reading Julia Steiny. You finish and think, well, we’re down the rabbit hole for sure now . . .no use even trying to talk sense until I get back HOME.

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10 responses

13 07 2007
JJ

A comment I made about Steiny, that seems to fit Warner as well:

She can’t think in new ways because the old ways are IN the way. They have become the structure not just of schooling but of her own thinking.
This is straight from the edge.org piece on reason leaving the building when sacred values come into play:

“. . .policy is a product of the way government is structured. If policy making bodies don’t have people who are as familiar with new ways of thinking as with old, nothing new can be done.

14 07 2007
NanceConfer

We were shaking our heads over this one at the pool today.

Riiiight, that’s what all these kids need — these beautiful, happy, splashing kids — they need less time like this with their parents.

Bah!

Nance

14 07 2007
JJ

Now, now.
If every kid in the world wasn’t there all having the same fun in the same moment, it must be stopped as unfair . . .

17 07 2007
Crimson Wife

Okay, I read the full post here. It isn’t quite as bad as the out-of-context quotes make it seem. She makes some good points about how 80% of moms with children over the age of 6 are in the workforce but only 50% of those get any paid leave time. Schools really ought to take that into consideration when scheduling such things as parent-teacher conferences. I do agree that her solution to the problem is way out there. What she really ought to be advocating is for more working moms to get the scheduling flexibility that she enjoys.

17 07 2007
NanceConfer

And she could advocate for her own daughter instead of bullying her.

Nance

17 07 2007
JJ

Hi CW — and I think it’s the “thinking” that needs to be more flexible. 🙂

I guess it depends on what we’re really trying to accomplish. If more time for parents and kids to be together and truly flexible is the point, maybe a total ban on schools assigning homework then? (Just for example — there are many other ideas along this line too.)
Thus even working moms and dads on demanding and inflexible daytime schedules could reclaim their evening family time, when they are off-work and home with the kids. Seems to me that every night for every kid, that would make a lot more difference to a lot more families than anything starting from the premise of the “school” or other organized kid activities . . .

Not JC and Nance have been writing about their sons’ sports (gymnastics and tae kwon do) and how much time it takes on weekends, and how much money. COD and Daryl write about their daughters’ horses and ballet school. Would Warner really say that these educational experiences shouldn’t be available for any kids, if every kid can’t enjoy that level of parent involvement and financial commitment?

I don’t think I took her words or meaning out of context — I think she was indeed saying this. Maybe if she could take a less structured, less conformist perspective out for a spin, she would see it differently but I wouldn’t bet on it. I think the society that her kind of thinking creates and reinforces, is what we have now and what we deserve, if we can’t start thinking differently.

17 07 2007
NanceConfer

And I do think many Moms and Dads are striking out on their own to get the flexibility the author enjoys. Along with the irregular paychecks. 🙂

Nance

23 07 2007
Crimson Wife

Alfie Kohn wrote a whole book on why assigning homework to elementary school kids makes no sense. From what I remember of public school homework, 90% of it was “busywork” that was assigned for its own sake, not because it actually had any educational value.

17 08 2007
Unschooling the Public in 25 Words or Less « Cocking A Snook!

[…] based mine on Judith Warner’s NYT parenting blog, specifically her parent involvement post that throws into such stark relief the media’s ignorance of School as the number one […]

13 09 2007
NPR: Do Your Kids Need More of You, or Less? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] or Less? 13 09 2007 (They should’ve also interviewed that NYT blogger mom about her idea to cancel parent involvement unless there’s enough for the whole class . . […]

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