A Shared Concern

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Education reformers in the United States have long emphasized the importance of involving parents in their children's schooling. But what Americans may not know is that the drive to make parents partners in education spans the globe.

A new study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a trade council made up of leading industrialized nations, looks at the issue of parent involvement in education in nine countries: Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In Spain, for example, three-quarters of students attend schools in which their parents take part in financial and organizational decisions. Spanish parents also sit on school committees that elect local principals every three years. In Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, and Spain, members of national parents' organizations have a legal right to sit on key national committees overseeing education.

But, the report notes, "in almost every country studied, strong parental involvement at one level is accompanied by complete lack of representation at another." French parents, for example, have a national voice in education matters but play almost no role in their own children's schools, the report says.

Information on ordering the report, Parents as Partners in Schooling, is available through the OECD's World Wide Web site: www.oecd.org.

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