School authorities continually claim that they want more parent cooperation and participation in their childrenís education. They complain when parents donít show up for parent-teacher conferences or push their children to do their homework.
Yet this constant cry for parent cooperation is often a smoke screen pretense to make parents think they have some control over their childrenís education. In most cases, parents have no such control. Teachers and principals may placate parents or ask for their cooperation, but they rarely make important changes parents ask for.
For example, most parents want their children to learn to do basic arithmetic without using calculators as a crutch. A poll by Public Agenda found that 86 percent of parents want students to learn arithmetic by hand before they use calculators. However, math-teaching policy for most public schools today is that all children beginning in kindergarten have access to calculators at all times to do math problems.
Most school districts make important teaching-method or curriculum decisions in secret, without parentsí knowledge or approval. A parentís only recourse is to complain to principals or school authorities after these authorities have dictated their curriculum or teaching methods, and parent sees damage to their children. Unfortunately, such complaints are often futile.
Most parents donít realize that school authorities donít want their opinion. Too often, school authorities ignore parents' suggestions or complaints because they truly believe they are experts and parents are just annoying amateurs. As a result, some teachers, principals, or administrators feel insulted when parents make suggestions or complaints. Many school officials believe parents should not have any real input in their childrenís education. That is one reason why school authorities hold their committee meetings in secret.