Teachers Column

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In a perfect world, teachers and parents would work together to help children succeed in school.

Researchers often cite greater parent involvement as a key to improving education, and it is now one of the eight national education goals.

But the gulf between parents and teachers remains too wide--and education schools and policymakers have failed to show teachers how they can change that, a report published last month found.

The study's authors, Joe Nathan and Betty Radcliffe of the Center for School Change at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, surveyed about 1,800 teachers nationwide. Mr. Nathan said they were trying to find out where the teachers' training fell short and how they would like to see parents play a greater role.

Three-fourths of the teachers said attending parent-teacher conferences was the most important way for parents to get involved. About two-thirds said parents' general encouragement and help on homework would make a difference in student performance.

"It's something so obvious that there hasn't been a lot of intensive discussion" about parents and teachers cooperating, Mr. Nathan said. "But I think we'd be very foolish to underutilize this powerful tool."

The authors are sending their findings to education schools, federal and state education officials, and parent and advocacy groups.

Mr. Nathan said he also hopes to examine parents' role in site-based decisionmaking in a future study.

The report--the third in a series by the center examining teacher training and parent involvement--was underwritten by the Rockefeller and Blandin foundations.

Copies of the report are available for $7 each from the Center for School Change, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota, 301 19th Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minn. 55455; (612) 626-1834.

Recruiting New Teachers Inc., a nonprofit group working to enlist middle and high school students in teaching careers, has named Roseanne K. Bacon the executive director of its new national resource center.

Ms. Bacon, a past president of the Massachusetts Teachers' Association, will head the National Center for Precollegiate Recruitment. The center was created by the Belmont, Mass.-based R.N.T. earlier this year with support from the Dewitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund.

--Joanna Richardson

Vol. 14, Issue 10

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