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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Readers' Survey 2007: Greatest Concern Expressed By Parents

Edutopia readers weigh in on their favorites.
By Edutopia
Edutopia Team
Credit: Getty Images

Safety

The wide range of responses to this question reflected a tense dynamic: Parents are concerned about many, many issues regarding their kids, and teachers, whose primary concern is supposed to be education, are frequent targets of parental anxiety.

A strong bond between parents and teachers is a good thing, of course, but the former direct some concerns at the latter -- student apathy, too much high-stakes testing, online safety, stress, school funding, behavior problems, and fighting on the school bus -- that teachers cannot manage alone or at all.

Our Take

Voiding Violence

The top concern parents expressed -- a combined focus on violence, school safety, and bullying -- is one that can be addressed in part at home, according to John Silva, director of safety and security at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, in Boston, Massachusetts. His work at CRLS, a school once challenged by violence, is documented in an Edutopia article about the school's remarkable transformation under his direction. (See "Mediation, Not Metal Detectors.") Here are his brief suggestions about how parents can directly and indirectly help reduce school violence and promote school safety:

  • Show your children you are interested in their schools, attend parent-teacher meetings and extracurricular activities, chaperone field trips, and join school committees.
  • Combat peer pressure: Develop an independent thinker by fostering self-esteem. Praise your children and show your love for them.
  • Listen to your children; develop a rapport when they confide in you about friends, school, and social activities.
  • Don't enable inappropriate behavior at home or in school. Children need to learn at an early age that there are consequences for their actions. Set clear limits and expectations with your children about behavior and manners.
  • Work closely with the school administration on discipline issues.
  • Discuss bullying with your children; teach them to have empathy for others. Encourage your children to confide in you, their teachers, and school administrators if they are victims of bullying; the best way to deal with bullies is to report incidents right away.
  • Talk about anger, conflict, and different ways to cope. Teaching children the basic principles of mediation gives them a tool to be used throughout their lives. Speak to your school about mediation or dispute resolution.

NEXT PAGE OF READERS' SURVEY: What you wish you had learned in your degree or certification program

2007 Readers' Survey Index

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Angie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I think that it is important for parents to keep in touch with thier child's school, teacher, principal when there is a problem concerning their child. Not only should the teacher address the issue at hand with the child but also notify the parent when something occurs. I am a first grade teacher at a low income school and I see and hear things that shouldn't be happening at this young of an age. I immediately notify the parents if an issue occurs on the playground, in the classroom or in the hall. I think it is important for parents to know if their child is having difficulty, the instigator or the person being bullied so that we can work together to help solve the problem. Being proactive and understanding is key to working with parents and students and giving them tips on how to help their child is also beneficial.

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