(Reader note: Welcome to the seventh in a series of weekly articles meant to stimulate thought and ideas. I am the only school board candidate offering weekly ideas to improve our schools.)

Before I was hired as a weekly columnist for the Daily Pilot in 1998, I was a frequent contributor to a section of the editorial pages of the Orange County Register called, “The Orange Grove.”

In one Orange Grove column, I wrote about returning from a sparsely attended PTSA meeting at Victoria Elementary School and wondering why more parents did not show up. As I drove home, I saw blue light coming from many of the homes – blue lights from televisions.

Though not every home I saw had kids and not every home was watching TV at the time of the meeting, it still made me wonder about all of the parents who were home and who made a conscious decision to skip the PTSA meeting. How could they do that? How could they choose a TV program over becoming more involved in their child’s education?

It’s different today. The Internet has created hundreds more options for occupying our free time (and apparently, our work hours, too) and we may be even farther from the parent engagement goal than we were 16 years ago.

There is tremendous evidence supporting the connection between parent involvement and academic performance. According to a 2002 study by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (2002), “… students with involved parents are more likely to:

  • Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs
  • Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits
  • Attend school regularly
  • Have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school
  • Graduate and go on to postsecondary education

And the best part? Parent involvement is one of the least expensive ways, most effective ways to improve academic performance.

So, why aren’t more parents involved? Certainly, there are reasons such as work, physical challenges, etc. But having been a presence on each of the campuses where my kids attended school, I know this: There is a huge percentage of parents who could do far more than they are.

That should change. As your school board member, I will recommend that we take a best practices approach to parent involvement by examining schools at which participation far exceeds the norm and use those strategies and tactics that make sense for our district. And should we find that one successful strategy is shaming parents into participating, I’ll gladly deliver that message.

It’s a low cost, high return investment that is not too good to be true.

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You can support the vision of better schools and a more efficient school district by supporting my candidacy one or all of these four ways:

1) Vote for Steve Smith on November 4

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4) Make a campaign contribution. By credit card, visit: stevesmithforschoolboard.com

By check:

Steve Smith for School Board 2014

P.O. Box 2361

Costa Mesa, CA 92628

campaign ID 1370797

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