Raggio says state needs to get tough on parental involvement in school | NevadaAppeal.com

Raggio says state needs to get tough on parental involvement in school

Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau

A frustrated Sen. Bill Raggio told education advocates Wednesday it’s time the state did something about parents who refuse to get involved in their children’s education.

“These are the kids we are losing in this process,” he said. “These programs, no matter how intended, are just not going to reach those parents.”

The comments during the Legislative Committee on Education meeting followed a discussion led by Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, on programs to improve parental involvement in Nevada’s public schools.

But Raggio said all those programs are directed at the parents who want to be involved.

“We have to get the attention of parents who will not respond no matter what,” he said.

Smith agreed but said “there may be a certain population of parents we can’t reach.” She and Assemblyman Wendell Williams, D-North Las Vegas, said many parents who would like to attend school meetings and be involved can’t because of work.

“The toughest task is getting to the group you’re talking about,” Williams told Raggio. “But there are a lot of parents who would like to be involved but can’t because they’re working two jobs. I’ve talked with parents who face a choice: Do I keep my job and go to work or go to the school?”

Smith said she’s heard stories about parents who have been fired for even getting a school phone call at work.

“I’m not talking about those who have a legitimate interest,” Raggio said.

“I’m talking about the ones who have no interest in their children.”

He said some parents ignore repeated notes and calls from schools and won’t attend meetings involving their children. He said many of those students show up sporadically or not at all and have no encouragement to participate in class.

“Maybe we have to get the social welfare or police in there and if they’re not going to parent, then maybe they shouldn’t be parents,” he said. “We have to quit making alibis and excuses for those parents and do something about it.”

Williams said before going after those parents, maybe lawmakers should consider allowing parents time off work to got to school meetings for their children.

“I’m talking about the ones who don’t want to do anything,” said Raggio.

That discussion was followed by a disturbing report by University System Chancellor Jane Nichols, who said far too many high school graduates aren’t academically prepared for college.

She told the committee 36 percent of those who go directly from high school to college in Nevada are taking remedial courses.

“This is a terrible situation for Nevada and it’s a terrible situation for us,” she said pointing out that large remedial programs soak up resources that should be dedicated to other class offerings.

Nichols said the areas where students themselves say they need the most help are the core areas of English and mathematics.

She said the university system has gone so far as to begin hanging posters in the school districts around the state telling middle school students what classes they need to succeed.

“It says this is what you need to take in middle school and high school,” she said.

Nichols said the poster isn’t talking about what students need to go to college.

“These skills are the skills employers need,” she said.