Parents as experts?

Photo by Brittany_G

When I go to the doctor, I expect to work with someone in a partnership to figure out what is wrong or to assess my current health situation. I don’t want a doctor who is offended when I suggest possibilities or when I do research on the net. I respect his or her experience and expertise, but I know my body. The best doctor/patient relationship is a partnership. If it isn’t, I’ll go elsewhere. There may be times in an emergency situation when I might rely more heavily on the doctor’s expertise, but usually if I don’t agree or don’t feel I’m being listened to, I’ll seek another opinion (or just avoid going—not a good alternative). Unfortunately, too many doctors still have the “god complex,” and bristle at any give and take.

School districts are facing the same philosophy tug-of-war. Educators want parents to be more involved in their kids’ academic lives, but not everyone agrees on their role in the school district. How much say do parents collectively have over curriculum? Does a district appoint a parent to the curriculum committee to give lip service to including parents’ views or do they actively seek and incorporate their input? Do the teachers and administrators have a “we know better—we’re the professionals” attitude, or do they value parents as equal experts with a different perspective?