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Parent Involvement
A Missing Element in the Lawrence Public Schools
Peter Larocque, Lawrence School Committee

Parents being involved in the education of their children should be the norm rather than the exception.

Our children deserve our involvement! The days of blindly dropping off our children at school and expecting just the schools to do the job of educating our children are OVER.

According to the president of the National Education Association, Reg Weaver, “To reach their full potential, students need parents to take an active role in their education. Parents should be their children’s favorite teacher.”

The president of the United States stated at the fourth anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act, “Schools that Succeed have got parents who are involved at the school. Parent involvement is a very important part of the Success of schools around America.”

Of course, the degree of involvement due to living circumstances may vary, from making sure that homework is completed … to being an active member at your child’s school PTA. The bottom line is that our children in Lawrence, beginning in kindergarten all the way through high school, will not take their education really serious until they know without any doubts that their parents or guardians are serious about their education.

We as parents and citizens of Lawrence have a wonderful opportunity placed before us. We have wonderful, hard-working teachers in the Lawrence public school system. We have a 110 million dollar state-of-the-art high school in our near future. MCAS scores indicate we are moving slowly in the right direction. Yes, we need to do better, and we must begin seeing more than just a little improvement in student achievement. But from this parent’s opinion, we are climbing an uphill battle - a battle worth fighting!

The key element to assure we stay on the right coarse is parent involvement. The Lawrence public school system is set up for parents to be involved in the education of their children; they just need to step up to the plate!

Parents have the right and the authority to be involved! Parents are the check and balance in keeping school committees and school superintendents and school administrations in line.

Parents need to recognize this and believe that they can make a difference. If they are not getting the response that they desire, then make the change at election time.

Children who have parents that know their teachers, LEARN BETTER. Teachers who know the parents of their students ,TEACH BETTER. Parents who know their children’s teachers are more INVOLVED. Exchanging e-mail addresses or home phone numbers does wonders and sends a great message to our children.

Now more than ever, as we enter into discussions concerning school safety, our children need our involvement! We as parents need to have an open dialogue with our children on this subject. If your children feel unsafe for any reason, they should let you know and you as the parent then make us aware. If they hear of some wrong doing that is about to take place, then please let us know.

The kids who attend Lawrence High have already brought to the attention of school officials information, and preventative action was put in place. The majority of our high school students are GREAT! There are just a handful who are misdirected.

Having said all this, now let’s examine some of the excuses concerning parent involvement. We are a poor city. Many parents have to work long hours, some have two jobs, some are single parents, some have an English language problem, so the thought of being involved in their child’s education is just not on their radar screen. Stop, take a moment and breathe. Ask yourself this question: How important is your child’s education to you? For many of our children, the only way to break the cycle of poverty is to get the best education available.

So before you throw the concept of parental involvement out the window and take on a defeatist attitude and tell yourselves it is out of the question, there are still ways of working and busy parents can get involved. There are programs available to assist parents in this endeavor. Homework help and tutoring,through after school assistance, is available.

The point is to let our children in Lawrence know that we as parents do take their education serious. Even we parents whose children have graduated and moved on to the next stage of their lives.

We still have an investment in the lives of the other children of Lawrence in the public school system. I’m sure that you have heard the old saying: We get involved now while they are standing before teachers or we get involved later when they are standing before a judge. The choice is ours.

We must look at parental involvement as a long-term investment. An investment that will have long lasting effects on our families and communities.

We are in a new school year. Let’s work together in this worthwhile endeavor and help our diamonds in the rough to shine bright and make all of Lawrence proud.

Peter Larocque is a member of the Lawrence School Committee. He was elected by the Lawrence City Council to fill the unexpired term of Amy McGovern. You can email him at

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The November, 2006 Edition of the Valley Patriot
The Valley Patriot is a Monthly Publication.
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