Virtually every analysis of effective education stresses that parent participation is a crucial factor in successful schools. Here in Baltimore, plenty of parents are ready -- even eager -- to play their part in bringing back some measure of excellence to city schools. Why, then, are they too often relegated to the sidelines when big decisions are afoot?
Baltimore city schools have a history of top-dowdecision-making, a style of governance that too often treats parents' opinions as an afterthought. Even when the public is allowed to address the school board, there is no give-and-take, and it appears to many observers that the board seems aloof, even short-tempered in its approach to parents' remarks.
Yet who is a better judge of the effectiveness of a school than a parent who watches a child's progress day by day? All citizens can be said to be stockholders in the public school system, since its successes or failures will have such a major impact on the region's future prosperity. But parents have a very personal, specific interest in the schools -- and their voices should be heard.