Parent Rights a Top Priority for Education Responsiveness


How well parents exercise their rights determines what degree or quality of services they get in public schools.  It is quite different in independent or private schools as there the customers are usually treated as paying customers.  So, how can parents exercise their expectations and rights better, across the socio-economic spectrum?

People often think that by moving to an affluent district the schools are better.  And this is generally true, even though there are exceptions where schools in poorer areas achieve excellent scores. We can learn from this demographic skew and adopt some of the characteristics of parents in rich districts. It is not necessarily the money that makes the difference!

First:  High Expectations. They are used to good service, and can afford to shop around.  For doctors, for accountants, for cars, for groceries, whatever. If they make mistakes, the costs are not earth shattering.  Whether from their parents or from experience or both, they soon embody the ancient dictum:  Caveat Emptor, buyer beware.

Second:  Using Choices and Competition. They know how to handle shoddy goods and services.  They do not patronize them. They shop around.

Third:  Complaining is Effective.  They know how to get results, especially if public services are at issue. Whether roads, sewage, zoning or public health, complaints take many forms:  letters to the editor, using your elected officials for remedies, law suits, etc.

Fourth:  Knowledge of Rights is Inherent in their Bones.  They seem to know and expect what they have a right to, and as citizens and taxpayers, have a keen awareness of what to expect from public service providers.  Furthermore, they use information systems, including the Internet, to augment information on what to expect and what constitutes good practice.

So it is with public education.  Even though parent rights in education are not usually enshrined in legislation or printed in school handbooks, somehow parents from responsive school districts have a good sense of how to negotiate the system to benefit their children. 

If you seek more information on Parent Rights, Google will yield many references, especially for special needs.  However, we have an already compiled document which has been around since 1977 and still stands the test of time in empowering parents.  Whether you use it as a starting point for your own needs or as study material with other research and tools to develop new material, here it is:

Parent Rights and their Children's Education

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