Why Hospitals Don't Have "Parent Council Meetings"

If you don't have your own children, make sure you watch the video below about Dads -- it's so darn true -- and then let me explain the deal with pediatricians. Typical conversation:

Doc says: I'm not going to talk to you about your kid. I don't do that. But don't worry. I will send home a letter about how he's doing. You can read that. It has blood pressure, height, temp, blood test result, and physical exam data. Also I will write a comment. Probably "Participates Well in X-Ray."

Parent: Hmm. That's not exactly what I'm hoping for.

Doc: Well if you want to be a more involved parent, our hospital does have a Parent Council. You can advise us on things like: decor of the waiting room, what our office hours should be, even dress code of the nurses.

Parent: Huh?

Doc: You know, come to think of it, we always struggle to have enough parents show up for our hospital Parent Council meetings. I wonder why.

Oh wait. That is NOT a typical conversation that a parent has with a pediatrician. In fact, that conversation has never happened.

[I realize the limits of an analogy, btw. Doctors are not the same as teachers in 1,453 ways. Don't sweat the analogy. Thank you].

Instead, ponder:

Why is the basic notion of teachers not routinely conversing with parents, about THEIR KID, okay in our world?

My point isn't to add on more stuff to the teacher day. Not. That.

My point is that frequent, proactive phone calls to parents seem like an essential part of good teaching. Not a bonus part of teaching.

I'd love to see it built into the teacher work day, even 15 minutes a day, like entering grades. Just gotta be done. Cut something else.

Sorry. Today's provocation came by US Mail. I got a newsletter from a high-poverty district in MA (not Boston), one you've never heard of. Not sure how I got on their mailing list.

Anyway: The superintendent is on the front page, imploring parents to join some district "parent council."

Hey Supe:

Let me save you some time. 97+% of your parents are not gonna show up for your meetings. And I'll save you the time to troubleshoot why. It's not the food. It's not the parking. It's not the day of week, or time of day. It's not whether babysitting is available.

It's that MOST parents want to talk about THEIR KID. Not about the whole freaking school. They talk to doctor about THEIR KID. They talk to dance teacher about THEIR KID.

I think it's great for principals to engage/listen to the 3% of parents who do want to talk about the whole freaking school. I applaud it, love it, relish it, approve it.

But don't make those parents -- whether 1%, 3%, or 10% -- the dominant part of your school's parent communication strategy.