Why Do Schools Shut Parents Out of the Classroom?

When I was younger, I heard that a sign of a good music teacher was an instructor who welcomed parents to sit in on a child’s lesson. Recognizing the value of this advice, I incorporated it into my own private studio when I began teaching several years later. Sure, it was a bit awkward at times, but in general, it paid off for all involved – particularly in the instance where I laid down the law, student threw tantrum on floor, and observing parent took my part with a vengeance. Good times.

Unfortunately, not all educational venues view parental observation as a good thing. Jay Matthews wonders why in today’s Washington Post:

“When I am about to go I want to tell my kids and grandkids how much I enjoyed watching them in action — talking, writing, building, playing. It helped me understand the essence and individuality of their lives.

But I have relatively few memories of them in school. Our education system does little to encourage parent observations. The few times I was allowed to watch my children in class taught me things and left vivid recollections. I wonder why schools don’t try harder to make that happen.

Many educators have the view that parents can be nuisances and their school contacts should be limited. Usually there is just one back-to-school night a year. Parents sitting and watching in the back of a classroom doesn’t fit ordinary school culture.”

Matthews goes on to explain that some schools even behave as though an observing parent is a violation of the privacy of others in the classroom.

Unfortunately, the attempt to use the school system to separate the child from the parent is not a new one. And as former teacher John Taylor Gatto explains in Dumbing Us Down, such a policy may be one of the biggest hindrances to a better education system:

“But no large-scale reform is ever going to work to repair our damaged children and our damaged society until we force open the idea of ‘school’ to include family as the main engine of education. If we use schooling to break children away from parents – and make no mistake, that has been the central function of schools since John Cotton announced it as the purpose of the Bay Colony schools in 1650 and Horace Mann announced it as the purpose of Massachusetts schools in 1850 – we’re going to continue to have the horror show we have right now.

The ‘Curriculum of Family’ is at the heart of any good life. We’ve gotten away from that curriculum – it’s time to return to it. The way to sanity in education is for our schools to take the lead in releasing the stranglehold of institutions on family life, to promote during schooltime confluences of parent and child that will strengthen family bonds.”

Is Gatto on to something? If the education system really has the child’s best interests at heart, then why wouldn’t it welcome the observation of those who gave him life and want to see him succeed and flourish in life more than anyone else?

This post Why Do Schools Shut Parents Out of the Classroom? was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Annie Holmquist.


Are you looking for an inexpensive way to get the knowledge your education did not provide?

Are you looking for material for yourself or your children free from the politically correct narrative?

Then Liberty Classroom may just be the answer.

I have heard Dr. Wood speak in person, read his books, and currently, subscribe to his Liberty Classroom.

You will be left knowing just how much you and your children have not been taught about liberty, Western Civilization, and economics. More importantly, you and your children will be equipped to confidently defend your freedom and your rights with the knowledge you will receive.

As a history and government teacher, I highly recommend Liberty Classroom.

Liberty Classroom 1

Liberty Classroom 2

Thomas Edison Would Have Been Given Adderall Today

Nancy Edison rejected schooling in favor of learning for Thomas Edison

The trouble with our way of educating is that it does not give elasticity to the mind. It casts the brain into a mold. It insists that the child must accept. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning, and it lays more stress on memory than observation.- Thomas Edison

In 1855, when he was eight years old, Thomas Edison enrolled in school for the first time. After 12 weeks, his teacher, Reverend G. Engle, called him “addled,” or unable to think clearly. Edison apparently hated school and its heavy focus on sitting, memorizing, and repeating. As biographer, Louise Egan, explains: “Tom was confused by Reverend Engle’s way of teaching. He could not learn through fear. Nor could he just sit and memorize. He liked to see things for himself and ask questions.”[1]

Student Achievement: Only as Good as the Books Read in English Class?

When it comes to improving education, a lot of emphasis is placed upon the STEM subjects: science, math, and the like. Proficiency in such areas, it is argued, is necessary if the U.S. wants its students to be successful on a global scale.

Such a supposition may be true; however, new evidence suggests that student success may not be found solely in the number and quality of math and science courses our kids take. In fact, one of the greatest instigators of student success may be in the quality of school English courses.

The Main Trait That Sets Vocational Students Apart From College Kids

It is those very same attitudes that employers are looking for

When I graduated from high school a number of years ago, there were a few – but only a few – rumblings concerning the high cost of college and the need for a more sensible, cost-effective path to a career, such as that offered by apprenticeship. I was curious about this alternative, but found it practically impossible to pursue because drinking the must-go-to-college Kool-Aid was the thing to do.

Times have certainly changed. Today, apprenticeship and vocational forms of higher education are viewed in a much more favorable light.

Yet despite this surge in interest, vocational education still endures a fair amount of skepticism and prejudice, as witnessed by one teacher in a column for The Guardian entitled, “I’m tired of justifying the value of vocational subjects.”

A University Student’s Schedule… from 500 Years Ago

The dumbing down of the university education

As we at Intellectual Takeout have recently pointed out, today’s college students aren’t devoting very much time to studying.

The typical modern student spends less than 3 hours per day on education-related activities, i.e., attending class and studying.

Undoubtedly this phenomenon is in large part due to the swelled ranks of college students combined with a less rigorous curriculum. If you look back to 1961—shortly before the federal government broadened its offering of student loans—students spent an average of 24 hours per week studying in addition to their 15 hours of class.

And, as you might guess, if you look back even further you will find an even more rigorous course of study for college.

School Choice with Public Funds Is Government Choice

More Public Funding = More Regulation

Several studies have shown that private school choice programs save taxpayers money overall and even financially benefit local school districts. The primary reason for this: on average, private school tuition levels are lower than the state per pupil funding amounts allocated to residentially-assigned public schools.

Moreover, these private school choice programs generally fund students that wouldn’t have attended a private school absent the scholarship since funding is targeted to the least-advantaged students. While these types of programs are fiscally beneficial, accepting public funds can have serious unintended long-run consequences for private schools and children.

I typically support education reforms which decrease the monopoly public schools have on public funding. As discussed in any basic economics course, even within an imperfectly competitive system, minimizing monopoly power increases competitive pressures and leads to higher quality at a lower cost. However, we must not forget the basic principle of opportunity costs. What is wrong with publicly-funding private school choice programs, and what should we do about it?

Does Wider Literacy Make for a Wiser Electorate?

I’ve grown fonder and fonder of National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson. Williamson thinks clearly and writes clearly. He is witty, ironic, linear, and persuasive in his arguments. His latest column is particularly noteworthy.

Williamson, loyal to a version of conservatism that is not particularly popular these days, criticizes the imperial presidency, which runs in striking contrast with that parsimonious idea of government dear to the American founders.

I was however a bit surprised by the following bit:

As American society grows less literate and the state of its moral education declines, the American people grow less able to engage their government as intellectually and morally prepared citizens.”

This Kind of School Choice Is Superior to Vouchers

Vouchers vs. Education Savings Accounts

Private school choice programs in the United States come in four basic forms: individual tax credits, tax credit scholarships, vouchers, and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).  Voucher programs are the most well-known type of private school choice.  While voucher programs are desirable for individual students and the societies in which they reside, ESAs have a few important advantages that make them more effective, according to economic theory.

Voucher and ESA Definitions

Vouchers allow families to use a fraction of their public school funding for tuition at a private school of their choice.  ESAs allow families to allocate a portion of their public school funding amount to a government-authorized savings account, if they choose to opt out of their public school.  ESA funds can be used for various education-related expenditures such as private school tuition and fees, online learning, tutoring, and even college costs.

Five Economic Advantages of ESAs

Principal recruits students for secret ‘gay’ club

Principal admitted the secrecy under which school staff operated

Faculty and staff members at a charter school in Sandpoint, Idaho, set up a clandestine student “gay” club, recruited students for it and concealed their activism from the affected students’ parents apparently in violation of federal law, according to letter from the nonprofit legal organization Liberty Counsel. Consequently, Liberty Counsel will “take further action to prevent…

How Econ Textbooks Sanitize the Horrors of Communism

When I was first learning economics, I was surprised by how pro-communist many economics textbooks were. I don’t mean, of course, that any economics textbook ever said, “Communism is good.” What I mean, rather, is that textbooks were very positive relative to communism’s historical record. Indeed, many seemed deeply ignorant of actual communism, basing their assessment on second-hand information about communists’ stated intentions, plus a few anecdotes about inefficiencies. Many textbook authors were, in a phrase, communist dupes: Non-communists who believe and spread a radically overoptimistic image of communism.

At least that’s what my admittedly flawed memory says.

Today’s Texts

This homeschool year, I’m prepping my sons for the Advanced Placement tests in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Our primary text is Cowen and Tabarrok, which includes accurately horrifying details about life under communism. But we’re also working through all the test prep books. And while skimming the Princeton Review’s Cracking the AP Economics, bad textbook memories came flooding back to me. It’s mostly a normal econ text, but here’s what it tells us about communism: