Parents’ Influence On Kids in School Captures Top Blog Spots

By Michele Molnar — December 27, 2012 3 min read
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It turns out 2012 was a very good year for K-12 Parents & the Public, and now it’s time to take a look back to see what registered as some of the hottest topics for our blog’s readers. Here, we examine several of the most popular posts.

Super Hit 1 was good news on the home front: our report on a study that showed that parents who want their children to succeed academically in school have more influence over that outcome than the schools themselves.

“The effort that parents are putting in at home in terms of checking homework, reinforcing the importance of school, and stressing the importance of academic achievement is ultimately very important to their children’s academic achievement,” the study’s co-author told Education Week.

The #2 post was “When Mama Ain’t Happy: Screening ‘Won’t Back Down,’”. This is the story behind the story of the Hollywood film, which depicts the struggle of two Pittsburgh mothers who petition their school board to turn around a seemingly apathetic, ineffective elementary school. We also reported on a movie—this one a documentary called “Parent Power”—which describes another avenue parents use in the fight to improve the education of their children. While “Won’t Back Down” was marketed as inspired by a true story, “Parent Power” is the telling of a true story. (This post was not in the top rankings.)

The finding that parental engagement is on the rise hit #3 on the K-12 Parents & the Public charts. While teacher satisfaction has declined to its lowest point in more than two decades, a MetLife survey reported, parent engagement is climbing to new heights across America.

Readers also expressed a strong interest in two stories from the Louisiana legislature.

A Louisiana bill that was ultimately deferred in the House Education Committee would have graded parents on their required participation in the educational progress of their children. It was the #4 post.

Following close on its heels at #5 was the story of a law that went into effect Aug. 1 empowering school districts in Louisiana to take punitive action against parents who fail to show up for a teacher-requested parent-teacher conference, either in person or over the phone.

The language of the law does not specify what kinds of action school boards can take in trying to enforce parent-teacher conference participation. Publishing the names of recalcitrant parents in the local newspaper seems to be the most frequently mentioned consequence.

This blog’s 6th most well-read story this year reported advice from the National PTA about how to speak to children after the Colorado movie theater shooting in July. Tragically, less than six months later, we covered this topic again in “Guidance for Parents After School Shooting.” (The latter post did not make the top listing.)

Good news resonated in our 7th most popular post about adults’ ability to impact their children’s lives. Called “Parents of Teens: You Can Influence Your Kids About School,” it explained that researchers have found that parents—and teachers—still “trump” other teens when it comes to influencing their children about certain aspects of school engagement.

On the national front, readers were interested in research showing that the public strongly favors having locally elected school boards. The #8 post was a study of 40 years of public opinion polls indicating that the public wants to run and improve local schools via elected school boards, but looks to federal and state authorities to ensure equitable distribution of funding and shared standards for what children learn in school.

A look at how parent engagement can be increased at mostly African-American high schools also captured attention from our readers in the #9 spot. Administrators who want to improve participation should be sure that they don’t make parents feel blamed for not showing up or pulling their weight, says the study’s lead author. And the schools should make sure they are creating a welcoming environment for parents who do walk through the doors.

We’ve left the #10 spot open for you to choose. Check the archives to see what topic appeals to you and your sensibilities.

We look forward to covering more in the fascinating area of how parents and the public are reshaping education policy in 2013. Please share your ideas about topics you would like to read about in K-12 Parents & the Public blog.

A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.

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