When It Comes to School Fundraising and Volunteering, How Much is Too Much?
How many Americans parents stay up late baking cookies? How many leave work early for football games? According to data from the DOE’s National Household Education Surveys Program, about 42% of parents volunteered at their child’s school in 2016, and 58% participated in fundraisers.
However, if you look at nations with higher performing schools, you may find something surprising. Parents rarely show up at all. And get this: a 2009 study of parenting in 13 countries in regions found that on average, children who had parents who volunteered performed worse academically than those who did not.
The data seems mystifying, but there are some potential explanations. One is that some parents may be volunteering for the precise reason that their kids are already performing poorly in school. Another is that parents who spend too much of their limited time and energy making decorations for the upcoming dance or selling magazines may have less time and energy to devote to potentially educational activities for their kids. Contrast that with data that showed that parents who read to their children raised more literate teenagers, and we may have a discernible pattern here.
These days, American parents bear the brunt of the blame for the shortcomings of our public school. But one thing is certain – we are showing up, and we do care. However, perhaps the problem is that we are showing up in the wrong place.
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