Archive for the 'Parent Rights' Category

Privacy in the Internet Age

 

On July 30/09 I saw this interesting interview with the host on CNN with Kyra Phillips:

 

education-advisory.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/privacy-in-the-internet-age-cnn-090730.pdf

 

It relates to parent rights and duties and student rights.

 

 


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

Criminalizing Home Education – California

As a grandmother of the early home education movement in North America, naturally I was concerned about the recent court ruling in California which basically criminalized about 200,000 home schooling parents lacking teaching credentials. Hopefully, if it is not overturned by the Supreme Court, Governor Schwarzenegger has promised legislative remedy: "Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education.”

I am very impressed by the extent and depth of feeling and outrage expressed by supporters of home education. But, I am disappointed at the hostility and shallowness of those who are opposed, either out of self-interest (teacher unions) or basic intolerance. (Just Google California home schooling ruling…)

It is because this case even came up in 2008, and because the hostility and threat can be reasserted at any time, that I would like you to read my publication in 1987 which was useful in two ways: 1) to encourage home educators, and 2) to put the education establishment on notice about the legality and imperatives driving this movement. In the article I quote John Holt as saying:

Today freedom has different enemies. It must be fought for in different ways. It will take very different qualities of mind and heart to save it.”

Published in a prestigious educator magazine — The Canadian School Executive —  the article carries weight to this day, often quoted.

My history in home education goes back to 1972 when, after being credentialed from a Teachers College, I traveled with my children to Mexico to study under Ivan Illich of deschooling fame. 

There I met with John Holt. He knew I had two young children with me, ages 3 and 5, and asked if I would be enrolling them in school soon. I said I might educate them at home.

He thought this was illegal, but I said I found from my readings at Teachers College that the “otherwise” clause in most Education Acts allowed it.

He then commented that at least I would be qualified to do it, having obtained a teaching certificate. Again, I enlightened him with the fact that this was not a requirement.

He then posed the thoughtful but predictable question about socialization, and we chatted about the various community opportunities available and the negative aspects of socialization that parents wanted to avoid.

His parting comment was: “Smart City!”

Using his mailing list which he had used to encourage education reform, he soon embraced home education and in 1977 started a new publication, “Growing Without Schooling".

Meanwhile, Dr. Raymond Moore was spreading the word (The Family Report) amongst his mainly Christian audience and paid frequent visits to Vancouver, especially when we held Home Learning Fairs.

You can download the article: Home Education: the third option which helped validate the movement and to see issues of 20 years ago reappearing today……

(See this article under Home Education)

Education Choice #1 Parental Right

As we hear and read about school choice being the the answer to reforming education performance and satisfaction we need to be aware of some basics.

1. It has always been, except in totalitarian states, the duty of parents to educate their children.

    England: It shall be the duty of the parent of every child of compulsory school age to cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability, and aptitude, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. (Education Act, 1944)

    United States: The first School Laws in America (1642) underlie the system to this day: “Universal education of youth is essential to the well-being of the State. The obligation to furnish this education rests primarily upon the parents.”

    Canada: “The responsibility is placed by law upon the parents or guardian to educate their children.” (You and the Law, 1973)

    The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) support this parental duty.

    2. The public schools do have a statutory duty to provide a free education to all students whose parents choose to register them. However, it is made clear in all school law that parents are to be kept informed of the progress of the child. This information must be accurate and understandable to the parents so that they in turn can exercise their duty by supporting, augmenting, intervening or withdrawing from that school.

    3. Public schools serve a two-fold purpose: to assist parents in meeting their parental obligation in the education of their children and to serve the broader public interest in seeing that citizens are educated to a certain standard.

    4.School Acts should clearly reflect this intent and support parental duty.

    5.School Boards in private schools and in the past were representatives of the parents who had enrolled their children in a particular school. Now, that school boards have grown large and supervise immense numbers of children in many schools, are elected from a broad population and often represent vested interest groups, we can see how far they have strayed from their original mandate.

    6.Bureaucracies and complex channels of communication have grown to the point that the basic parent-child-teacher relationship has been so compromised that frustrated people are looking ever more seriously for alternatives.

    The above points start to explain the ever growing movements for choice, for vouchers, for parent involvement, for charter schools, for home education, for separation of school and state, etc.

    After Hurricane Katrina threw into disarray most of New Orleans’ school system, authorities decided to start rebuilding school opportunities with a clean slate. The January/February issue of “The Atlantic” has a 12 page article: by Amy Waldman that is worth reading:

    Katrina washed the slate clean, providing a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent public education.” The result was the fastest makeover of an urban school system in American history. …the neighborhood school had been banished–parents would have total freedom to choose which school their children would attend, no matter where they lived. Introducing school choice and weakening teachers’ unions had both long been goals of many educational reformers.

    Leslie Jacobs, a member of the state Board of Education, said:

    This is huge. What’s happening in New Orleans is turning into a national model on choice.”

    School Board president Phyllis Landrieu said:

    This is a cause for celebration. Students and parents have a very wide choice of options for selecting schools this year.”

Parent Rights

PARENT  RIGHTS  AND  THEIR  CHILDREN’S  EDUCATION

The rights compiled here are those that generally apply in most democratic countries. They have been gathered from sources in Canada, United States, England, and Australia. Some of these rights are self-evident, some are inscribed in law. Others are simply standards which parents have grown to expect when good educational practice is followed.

1. THE RIGHT TO CHOICE

"Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children." (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948)

This means, that while parents have a duty to see that their children are educated to a reasonable level of self-sufficiency and citizenship, they can choose how this is to be accomplished: public, private or church schools, tutoring, correspondence courses, home study, or other styles. If a style other than a public school is chosen and the parents are challenged, the onus is generally on the state to demonstrate that the child is not being educated at a level equal to his peers in a public school. The mandate of the public schools is to make available to all children in the community an education which is free, appropriate and equal. Parents have a right to choose and expect at least that minimum for their child.

2. THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION In order for parents to make a proper choice, they need adequate information. They need to know enough details about schools so that when they do register their child into a particular school, they are in effect, giving "informed consent" for the child to be there. Equally important, they need ongoing information as the child progresses through the school programs so that they can maintain confidence and support for the school, or withdraw the child if things prove unsatisfactory. If theirs is a public school, parents need information for one other reason – to help them provide informed opinions to the school and to participate in school decision-making.

 Specifically, parents have the right:

a)     to obtain sufficient details about schools to enable them to make informed choices about schools

b)   to receive specific, understandable information about their child’s progress; strengths and weaknesses

c)   to see all student records and files on their child, to expect that the information therein is confidential and respects the privacy of parents and student, and to request that inaccuracies and damaging information be removed

d)   to obtain information about any program in which their child is engaged, the rationale for the program, the evaluation methods used, and the credentials and job description of those implementing the program

e)   to visit and observe any programs involving their child

f)   to easy access to those working with their child (teachers, principal, specialists)

g)  to receive information about school services–including alternatives in the system, procedures, rules, and to be informed about changes

h)  to see that the public school board is operated as an open public business, that is, that the public has a right to see all policies, budgets, minutes, and official reports, and to see that decisions are made at public meetings.

3. THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD & CONSULTED

As advocates for their children, parents have a responsibility to inform public schools about their expectations concerning their children’s education. And this means that if the public system is to be responsive, parents must be accorded the right and the opportunity to be heard. They have a right to be heard by the teacher, by the total school staff (for example, on such items as philosophy, goals and programs), by the local school board and the higher educational authorities. Parents, as individuals and in parent groups, have a right to be heard when policies are being formulated, when planning is undertaken, when budgets are being prepared, and when evaluation is being conducted. They have a right to present briefs, make statements, and try to influence decision-making about schools their children attend.

4. THE RIGHT TO SPECIAL ASSISTANCE

Parents have the right to expect special services for children with handicaps, limitations, disabilities or exceptional talents. Parents also have the right in these instances to expect special assistance for themselves so that they can understand the situation and be enabled to continue helping their child. Parents whose children have been taken into care by the state (e.g., foster care, correctional institution) also have a right to expect special services to help their children continue their education, and for themselves so that they can maintain a helping contact as much as possible or desirable.

5. THE RIGHT TO INVOLVEMENT Parents, as co-educators and guides of their child’s total education, have a right to be involved in that part of the child’s day spent in school. Particularly, it is important to know that parents have the right:

a) to understand the principles, aims and programs of formal education so that they can support, enrich and provide home follow-through to school programs. At times, parents have also found it necessary to have this basic understanding in order to provide external remediation or tutoring.

b) to have their child excused from programs or prescribed reading which offends the values of the home, when specifically requested

c) to consultation before fundamental changes are made which affect the parents, the child, or the total school climate

d) to participate in evaluation procedures affecting their child’s programs, and in formulation of policy, goals and shape of education

e) to be involved in the event their child is to be suspended from school. The student has the right to "due process" and parents and student are part of the affected parties to be heard before judgment or action is taken and before the student is suspended for just cause.

6. THE RIGHT TO SAFEGUARDS

Parents have the right to expect that a school system has certain standards that govern good practice. Specifically, parents have the right:

a) to expect safeguards which protect their children from physical, intellectual and emotional negligence or abuse

b) to receive assurance that their school does not allow unauthorized invasions of their child’s privacy or property (e.g., questionnaires which pry into family life, searches of lockers)

c) to expect that parental permission is required before psychological, psychiatric, or medical assessment and/or treatment of the child are undertaken

d) to expect strict supervision over new programs, innovations and experiments, and that parents have special rights in these instances:

i) to receive a written description of the program, rationale, goals and supporting references

      ii) to grant or refuse permission for their child’s attendance

      iii) to receive satisfaction that the program is run by qualified, well-prepared personnel

      iv) to be involved in the ongoing evaluation.

7. THE RIGHT TO APPEAL

Parents have the right to appeal decisions which they consider unsatisfactory and to report behavior which they consider might be incompatible with good educational practice. Parents should be informed of their lines of appeal, which generally start with the teacher, then proceed up through to the principal, the school board, to the government ministry in charge. Parents have a right to receive, on request, a written explanation which responds to their appeal, and which they might require in pursuing their grievance further up the ladder. Matters of law can be referred to a court for judgment, and the normal civil remedies exist when it is considered damages should be claimed.

Parent Role, Rights, Responsibilities in Education of Their Children

With respect to educational rights, parents have a two-fold duty: to know and exercise their own rights, and to know and enforce their children’s rights. As users of the educational system, and as advocates for their children, parents are duty-bound to act well and wisely to see that the system works to the advantage of their children and the community’s children. If the rights here described are challenged by school officials, they have a right to ask why rights parents enjoy in other jurisdictions are denied them And they have a right to receive an explanation.

Interwoven with rights are responsibilities and some of these have been mentioned earlier. Besides all that parents have to do to provide the kind of home life and support for good education to happen, they also have to do their part in building a co-operative relationship with educational authorities. Parents need that relationship to ensure that policies and programs are developed as close "to home" as possible – close to the important parent-child-teacher relationship. The rights enumerated here should provide the confidence and background to help build that co-operative framework.

Remember:  It has always been, except in totalitarian states, the duty of parents to educate their children.

England: It shall be the duty of the parent of every child of compulsory school age to cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability, and aptitude, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. (Education Act, 1944)

United States: The first School Laws in America (1642) underlie the system to this day: “Universal education of youth is essential to the well-being of the State. The obligation to furnish this education rests primarily upon the parents.”

Canada: “The responsibility is placed by law upon the parents or guardian to educate their children.” (You and the Law, 1973)

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) support this parental duty.

The public schools do have a statutory duty to provide a free education to all students whose parents choose to register them. However, it is made clear in all school law that parents are to be kept informed of the progress of the child. This information must be accurate and understandable to the parents so that they in turn can exercise their duty by supporting, augmenting, intervening or withdrawing from that school.

Public schools serve a two-fold purpose: to assist parents in meeting their parental obligation in the education of their children and to serve the broader public interest in seeing that citizens are educated to a certain standard.

(Compiled in 1977 by Education Advisory, an independent research and advisory service about effective parent participation in the education of their children.)