Competition, it is as American as mom, apple pie, and cowboy boots. An America without competition is like Old Glory without the stars and stripes. Our need to achieve, consume, and beat out the next guy is woven into our national fiber. We are conditioned from infancy to believe that everyone can achieve the American dream with hard work, initiative, and by obtaining an education. At kitchen tables across America, moms and dads are hovering over their children, monitoring every pencil stroke, analyzing every class choice, and fretting over each report card. They are involved, invested, and intense. After all, we wouldn’t want out children to “be left behind.”
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This idea of greater parental involvement is nonpartisan and is also being implemented in President’s Obama’s, Race to the Top (Wang and Fahey). No matter how they change the verbiage, the majority of American people sincerely believe that if they become more involved in their school systems that they are helping their children succeed. That this participation will give their children the elemental boost that will pay off with higher test scores in math and English. There is a burden of responsibly that has been laid at the feet of American parents, become more involved in your children’s academic world, if not, they will fail miserably and the future of our country will lie in ruins. Skeptical as I am prone to be, I have often thought, what if the fundamentals of this philosophy is skewed and in fact, parental involvement is not helping our children succeed? Interestingly, there is large body of evidence that shows that parents are actually hindering children’s academic success by being too involved.
At last, the voice of reason has emerged and I can at rest easily knowing that had I baked those chocolate cupcakes when Alaina was in 7th grade I would have indeed caused her to fail Pre-Algebra, as I suspected. Keith Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Texas, and Angel Harris, a sociology professor at Duke University, published their data in The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children’s Education. They have attempted show that
although policy makers feel that parental involvement is vital to academic success, all other measureable studies are showing the opposite effect. After tracking three decades of surveys and analyzing sixty-three different measures of parental participation, they found that parental involvement does not profoundly affect academic success.
The study conducted by Robinson and Harris was based on surveys that gathered demographic information on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and looked at the academic outcomes of students in all grade levels. This data covered the years between the 1980’s and the 2000’s. Robinson and Harris compared the academic performance of those children of actively involved parents to those whose parents were not active. The research showed that parental involvement did not improve test scores or grades, regardless of racial, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. This disproves the government’s dogma that parental involvement would improve and bridge the gap between the middle-class and the poorer children, the cornerstone on which No Child Left Behind was constructed (Robinson and Harris).
Things like helping children with their homework, volunteering at school, observing a class, and punishing children for bad grades actually can cause test scores and academic performance to plummet. This is especially true for older students, for example, when children enter middle school. It seems after elementary school, parents are not on the...