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Opening Arguments

Nudge, nudge

I'm guessing these will be about as useful as chastity pledges and "just say no to drugs" pledtes:

The state Department of Education is touting a new "parents pledge" it hopes will increase parent involvement in schools.

[. . .]

Parents who take the pledge commit to having their child read every day, complete homework assignments, graduate from high school and treat classmates and teachers with respect. Parents commit to encouraging their children to "dream big" and to monitoring their child's academic growth.

It's easy to understand why State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Bennett feels the need to try this. Parental involvement is probably the key sticking point in every education reform effort to come along. Almost everything schools do these days to boost student achievement is aimed at subsituting for the lack of such involvement, and unfortunately we're starting to see the limits of the substitutes. But the parents who are involved don't need the pledge, and those who aren't won't be persuaded to change their ways by it. The pledge assumes there are vast numbers of parents in the middle, willing or at least inclined to be involved in their children's education but just needing a little nudge to finally do it. I don't think that's the case.