Monthly Archive for October, 2007

Family and Education Report (1987)– Part 4

 

The Family and Education Committee was established by the BC Council for the Family in the Spring of 1985. On August 26th the President of the BCCF wrote to the Minister of Education requesting assistance with respect to gaining information and materials for examination. The letter emphasized the following:

          the Council’s concern that many problems of western society were traceable to the erosion of the family

          that the BCCF has a role to play in conducting studies and communicating with parents on matters which help to enhance the family

          that efforts to foster positive home-school interaction had not resulted in improved consultation

          that there was concern about how the family is portrayed in the curriculum and how it is treated in home-school relationships.

 The letter requested access to sets of materials for examination by the committee as well as other information about policies and process. The committee was expected to present interim reports
 

…to help us further elicit response from our various audiences. In this way, we believe, we will be able to build some useful tools to help parents become more involved with their schools.”

 After two years of work the Committee produced Interim Report #1, March 1987. The following briefly reports the experiences and findings of the committee and poses the questions for which we would like feedback. 
 

I.                   ACCESS TO INFORMATION

It was a difficult and long process for the Committee to obtain materials and textbooks for examination. Since the Committee feels it is important for parents and public to know what is being taught in public schools we would like feedback on the following:

Question #1:  What is the experience of parents, at all levels of the education system, in obtaining materials and textbooks for purposes of review?
 

II.                PARENT CHOICE

 
The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states that
 

Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given their children.”

We noted that, like the rest of Canada, BC has few alternatives to offer in the public education system. We would like to ask parents:

Question #2:  What do parents think about the number and range of choices concerning schools for their children?

Question #3:  What information is available from different schools about programs, philosophy, results and services in order that parents might make informed choices?

Question #4: When parents have the right to excuse their children from controversial subjects or programs to which they object, is the process respectful of the child and family?

 

Family and Education Report (1987) – Part 3

 
In 1984, The BC Council on the Family was again called to action on education. A concern surfaced about home-school relations when a brief was circulated among board members which expressed the long-standing concerns of an ex-school trustee of 13 years. The brief was sent to the Council because of its declared support for the institution of the family.
Essentially, the brief expressed concern that through the medium of the authorized curriculum and textbooks, B.C.’s children may be inculcated with attitudes that may weaken family stability, either by challenging parental authority or by down-playing the importance of the family in the social structure of the community. Questions were raised as to how curriculum was developed and to what extent parents were informed or involved in curriculum decision-making and school information generally.
Board members (who represent all regions of the province) were canvassed about their reactions to the paper. Because of the seriousness of the concerns and particularly, the shared concern of many board members about the lack of knowledge about what is taught in schools, a committee was struck in the Spring of 1985, the Family and Education Committee, to examine how the family is portrayed in the curriculum and how the family is treated in home-school relationships.
 
The Terms of Reference for the Committee were:

I.                   Cognizant of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26, Section 3, that

 Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given their children
The Committee will pursue their task, keeping in mind two fundamental principles which flow from the above declaration:
 

a)      the right to information, and

b)     the right to family privacy.

     II.                The purpose of the study shall be:
 

a)      to inquire into the influence of the public education system upon attitudes towards the family as an institution.

b)     to inquire into the influence of the public education system upon attitudes towards parental authority:

i) in the home

ii) in the child’s school concerning the child’s participation in school activities and choices among school courses,

c)     to inquire into the attitudes and practices of schools towards parents when they ask questions concerning their children’s’ courses of study, curriculum content, progress, behavior, etc.,

d)     to make recommendations concerning the need, and the ways and means, of encouraging parents everywhere to become knowledgeable about their schools and what is being taught,

e)      to make recommendations concerning mechanisms for obtaining parental input into curriculum decisions and choices of books and other authorized materials,

f)       to undertake an initial study of identified curriculum materials where concerns have been expressed, or as the committee so decides,

g)      to consider the multicultural dimension in BC in the study and recommendations,

h)     to inquire of the Ministry of Education on any matter that is pertinent to the development and selection of curriculum,

i)       to inquire concerning any other matter that the Council deems pertinent in the interests of families and education,

     III.    The public education system, for the purposes of this study, includes all programs over which the Ministry of Education provides oversight, that is, public, private and independent schools, and correspondence courses.
 

This study is to concentrate on programs of a mass education nature and excludes counseling situations between teachers and students.

 

Family and Education Report (1987) –Part 2

 

A workshop on Education and the Family found delegates again expressing “frustration with the state of parent-school relations in many of their schools”.

Continuing to post the 1987 Report on Family and Education (See Part 1, 19 Oct/07)…

 

The 1979 Annual General Meeting of the BC Council for the Family held five workshops for its members, one of these being Education and the Family. It was at this workshop that delegates again expressed frustration with the state of parent-school relations in many of their schools, and a recommendation was forwarded to the Executive suggesting some follow-up to the idea of promoting parent-school committees.

 The follow-up took two forms: 

1)  A letter was sent, via the B.C. School Trustees Association, to all School Boards, requesting development of policies supporting parent-school committees and back-up support to reinforce these policies. The need to reinforce family values was stressed. Reference was made in the letter to 

…studies under the auspices of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and other agencies establish beyond doubt the overwhelming influence of home and community background on personal and educational success in children.”

2)  A survey was undertaken of all 75 school boards to determine the current status and attitudes toward parent-school committees in BC. The survey results (1980) showed that only 25% of the school boards in BC had policies supporting the concept, but only 16% had both policies and back-up support. 

Eight school boards indicated an intention to develop such policies. Twelve boards indicated no policies or interest in the concept. 36 school boards did not respond. Two of the negative comments were:

 …there appears to be no correlation between schools with good communication and those with parent-school committees.”
 Not necessary at this time.”
 One Secretary-Treasurer was directed by the board to acknowledge receipt of the letter but

…the enclosed questionnaire neither be completed nor returned.”

 The report, Parent-School Committees in B.C., August 1980 concluded that
 …official endorsation and support by a school board sets a framework of valuing parent-school collaboration, and recognizes that effort is required to sustain good communication.”
 Given the results of the survey, the report commented that 

…it is not hard to see why Council members feel frustrated with respect to home-school communication. Knowing that good home-school communication helps strengthen family competencies in a wide range of ways, including education and socialization of children, the BC Council for the Family should continue lending support and encouragement to establishing and maintaining parent-school committees in BC.” 

The Council disseminated the report widely and sent copies to the Ministry of Education and all school boards in the Province.

In the continuing pursuit of family enhancement generally, and in particular in relation to education, the BC Council for the Family published (amongst its many publications) pamphlets such as: Family Role in Education, Education and the Handicapped Child, and Notes for Parents.

 

Family and Education Report (1987) – Part 1

At the Conference on the Family (BC, Canada) 1976, considerable attention was focused on the alienating effect public schools were felt to have on families and the potential (but often unused) power they had to help strengthen family competencies.

The Family and Education Committee was struck to examine these concerns and issues and make recommendations. Following is the Interim Report, 1987. I was a member of that Committee.

Family and Education Committee, Interim Report, 1987 

The history of this committee really goes back to 1975 when the groundwork was laid for the B C Council for the Family. The rationale for the eventual formation of the Council was the concern that

 …lying at the root of many current social problems was the plight of the family.”
and that a process was required to

…examine the issues affecting family life in this province and to recommend to the public and to the various levels of government policies that will diminish the difficulties and enhance the opportunities for a healthy and happy family life.”

At the Conference on the Family, 1976, considerable attention was focused on the alienating effect public schools were felt to have on families and the potential (but often unused) power they had to help strengthen family competencies. (Other agencies receiving similar scrutiny were the church, government, medical, and legal institutions.) Of the 94 recommendations generated by the Conference, more dealt with education than any other issue. The study, Family Needs in B.C., done in conjunction with the start-up of the Council, reported that

Most parents are concerned about the welfare of their children in school, and their own involvement in the overall process of education. However, not all parents felt that their views were really welcome or appreciated.”

 
(More of the Report follows in subsequent posts.)

 

Resistance to Meaningful Parent Involvement

Why is there Resistance to Meaningful Parent Involvement?

 “There are many compelling reasons for schools and districts to pay more than lip service to parental involvement,” said reporter, Katherine Wagner, in her column School Watch in the Maple Ridge and Pitt meadows Times, August 31, 2007.

Her article, entitled “PAC is more than just fundraising” (PAC: Parent Advisory Council) describes six levels of parent involvement. While research wholeheartedly supports the value of meaningful parent involvement, Wagner’s article points out that “stakeholders are often reading from different dictionaries when defining the term parent involvement.”

Despite the obvious benefits, “resistance” and “barriers” still exist. For example, her article points out that her school district #42 has not yet decided to include parent involvement in its mission, vision and value statements. A local trustee, Stepan Vdovine,  commented:

 There are still some parents who continue to struggle for a more meaningful involvement and in some cases for simply decent and fair treatment.”

 

Dear Reader:  Please see my Comment attached to this post for an article I did 28 years ago on this topic.  TA