Not Volunteering Enough at Your Kid's School? Go Straight to the Principal's Office!

Filed under: In The News, Opinions, Education: Big Kids, Education: Tweens, Education: Teens

Should volunteering be mandatory? Credit: Getty Images

Parents in San Jose, Calif., who thought their days of being graded with a check, check-plus or check-minus were far behind them, may soon face the ink of a teacher's red pen once again.

A proposal is in the works that would require families of the 13,000 students enrolled in the city's Alum Rock Union School District to volunteer at school a minimum of 30 hours a year, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

The newspaper reports that the proposal is modeled after a volunteer policy at Adelante Dual Language Academy, an alternative school in Alum Rock, where parents are graded via the check system -- and even get sent to the principal's office when they don't put in their time.

"We're trying to create a culture of strong parent-guardian-family participation in schools," Gustavo Gonzalez, Alum Rock trustee, tells the Mercury News.

Gonzalez's children attend Adelante, the newspaper reports, but he says the final proposal -- which could be put before the full school board this summer -- may not include the grading system.

According to the Mercury News, 88 percent of the students in Alum Rock are poor, 54 percent are language-learners and most of the 28 schools in the district don't have PTAs.

But in the affluent areas of the district, parent volunteers are a tradition and a mainstay at high-achieving schools, the newspaper reports.

"PTAs do marvelous things for us," Principal Carmen Giedt of Terman Middle School in Palo Alto, tells the Mercury News, of volunteers working in the library, publishing a family directory, running after-school clubs and providing each teacher with a $300 grant for supplies. "They do incredible stuff that is all behind the scenes."

But schools can't refuse to teach students if their parents don't -- or can't -- volunteer, Kim Mesa, a former Alum Rock trustee and volunteer, tells the paper.

"I think it's a really bad idea," she tells the Mercury News. "I've had parents tell me to my face, 'Who are you to tell me what I should do with my kids?' "

And, Mesa says, not every parent has the luxury of time to spend at school.

"When you have three part-time jobs, there isn't a lot of time to be volunteering," she tells the newspaper.

According to a study by the Texas-based Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, no matter their backgrounds or income levels, students whose parents are involved at school are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, be promoted, attend school regularly, have better social skills and graduate, the Mercury News reports.

What do you think? If parent volunteerism is good for students, should it be required?
Or should that decision be up to the parents?

Related: School Requires Parents to Perform Community Service

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.