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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Increased parental involvement is crucial for children’s learning. To improve it, work on the challenges parents face in raising their kids.

As part of the United States’ dire need for better education outcomes for our children, Thomas Friedman pointed out this weekend that research shows we may also need, as he puts it, better parents. A recent study shows, “Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 [a global exam] than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all… Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.”

Dana Goldstein follows up on this, defending him from the “collective ‘duh,’ followed by ’so what?’” as she puts it. Because what can schools and governments really do to change parents’ behavior? But as she points out, there are school reformers who have decided that there actually are steps they can take to change parenting. They just have to put in the time and resources.

I completely agree that parenting is a crucial aspect — one of the most crucial, the research is now showing — of educating children. And parents can therefore use more support, outreach, and guidance. This is a worthy use of our resources. But what they really need is someone to address the systemic challenges they face in raising their children.

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