This post is in response to the very common assertion that Parents don't care enough to show up to PTA/Other meetings.. Showing up isn't even enough. It's about effectiveness and organization. School systems dictate the way that parents can participate in district decisions. The fact that very few parents show up is testament to the inadequacy of the current model of parent participation. When I was chairman of my son's school's School Site Council, I attempted to update the model to include: Email and Post mail and telephone. A poll on how to handle a certain situation would be decided by just the folks that showed up. I asked why couldn't we just send them letters or allow them to phone in or send and email? What was the big deal about physical presence? I found out that the rules and regulations for how school site councils where run dictated the ways in which parents could participate. And, as if it was written in the 1800s, the only way for parents to have a say in anything was to physically show up. What sense does that make? Why can't the parents participate via conference call? or email? Why? because the myth of Parent apathy would no longer be available to the district or the teachers union. Parents are the patsy. In this school, the SSC meeting was held at 5pm. 5pm happens to be the time that most folks get off of work. So, the only folks that showed up were the few that lived near or had a non-standard work schedule. 5 parents would show up but that didn't mean that the other parents didn't care. I moved to have the meeting changed from 5 to 7. A move that received a chorus of silent groans from the Principal and the two teachers in attendance. Starting at 7 would mean they wouldn't get home till about 9.. never mind that this was important for the kids achievement or that this meeting as held only once a month; these teachers and principal were only concerned about themselves. They fought moving the meeting to 7 on the grounds that parents just didn't care. And, the parents in attendance seem to take that as some sort of compliment regarding themselves.. It made them look good.. they cared! Them other parents didn't care! Thats the kind of thing they would say to their friends and to everyone else anytime someone mentioned black student achievement. But. I say it's just not true. Something is broken but to point to the character of the individuals involved is to point to nothing.. it's to throw your hands in the air and leave everything as it is.. it's a blank check for the folks in power to keep doing whatever they're doing while the brunt of the blame goes to black parents. My critique of parent involvement has to do with effectiveness of that involvement.. I don't doubt that parents care for their children. I got that meeting changed to 7 pm. The attendance jumped from 5 or 6 women homemakers to as high as 50 parents... proving my point. Once everyone came, I then realized the limitations of the ways that parents can participate once they do arrive. The only difference more people made was that the statistics for the schools parent involvement were improved. Which meant the Principal, the teachers and the district had one less excuse as to why this school was not doing better. When we deify teachers and administrators we lose an opportunity to figure out what's really wrong and.. fix it.