What should parents do if they are not satisfied with neighborhood schools? Research supports parent engagement with schools to improve student achievement. However, when the mothers in Washington D.C. ask Michelle Rhee to advise them on what to do, Rhee would like to offer them vouchers.
Instead of providing real suggestions, Rhee paints parents as helpless victims, incapable of influencing the education of their own children. But parents and teachers working together through volunteering and advocacy would make a difference in our struggling schools. Parent attendance at school functions and parent meetings not only supports student development but also creates community connections as a school often acts as the central hub for a neighborhood.
Rhee also fails to tell parents their responsibility in the education of their own children. Children need trips to the library and parents that model reading as a priority at home. Parents must hold themselves and their children to the same high standard they hold for their public schools.
Instead, Rhee suggests that public school funding be diverted to school vouchers providing parents with school choice. Parents make choices regarding their children’s education every day, and vouchers are not a real choice in poor areas where there are few private schools with openings.
We need to recognize the real purpose of vouchers. This program steals money from underfunded public schools to deliver a discount to wealthy parents for elite private schools and to religious zealots for church-based schools.
Let’s bring great educational opportunities to our students in their own communities where their parents pay taxes instead of letting special interests and wealthy families rob our schools and divide our communities.