Education Letter to the Editor

Is Giving Cash to Parents Promoting ‘Involvement’?

May 12, 2008 1 min read

To the Editor:

Practically everyone acknowledges the importance of parental involvement in a child’s education (“Parents’ Role in Schools Earns Fresh Respect,” April 30, 2008). But when state departments of education start “nurturing” parent-participation programs—and, in Maryland, even handing out cash awards to parents deemed exemplary—skepticism is in order.

Would the state powers that be reward parents who took activist roles in opposing state-approved fuzzy math or revisionist, multicultural approaches to teaching U.S. history? Would they hand a $1,000 check to a parent who insisted on an abstinence-only approach to sex education?

Many parents have gone to their local and state school officials with legitimate concerns about policies or practices only to be told, “Gosh, you’re the only parent who has ever complained about that!” Does officialdom really want parents involved unless they agree with the party line?

If state departments of education in Maryland or elsewhere sincerely value parental involvement, they ought to push for expanded parental choice among schools with differing approaches to education so that all needs and interests are accommodated. Consumer power will go a lot further than random $1,000 cookies for a favored few.

Robert Holland

Senior Fellow for Education Policy

Heartland Institute

Chicago, Ill.

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