Parents In The Schools Are No Novelty

In "PTA meetings? Part of a government plot" (Up Front, Sept. 5), I must correct your erroneous report that the Clinton Administration's initiative to encourage greater family involvement in education is designed to "counter critics from the far right."

You imply that this initiative is part of a newly developed strategy. But family involvement has been part of the school-improvement agenda for at least 10 years now. As Governor of South Carolina, I made it an integral part of our Education Improvement Act, passed in 1984. The law made South Carolina one of only four states to initiate strategies to help parents in their role as the principal teacher of their children. The results were gratifying. PTA membership rose steadily, and in a 1988 poll, 65% of our state's teachers said parental involvement had increased.

I must also set the record straight on the charge that our family-involvement initiative means "government encroachment" on local control of education. The initiative seeks to promote community partnerships among parents, teachers, and schools. In this way, local control will be strengthened. President Clinton and I believe strongly that locally developed solutions are the best way to improve education for our children.

Richard W. Riley

Education Secretary


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