Inspire, Fall 1994

e A News Publication for Cedarville College Alumni 11S re FALL 1994 Parents In Education T om McGinnis has worked in the same public school district since graduating from Cedarville College 25 years ago.Now as principal ofPossum Elementary-Middle School in Clark County,Ohio,he welcomes every new parent to his school with the same message–it is the parents'responsibility to oversee the education oftheir child. "My responsibility as a teacher or administrator is to help parents educate their child,"Tom shares."The instruction in Proverbs to 'train up a child in the way he should go'doesn'tjust mean a list of do's and don'ts or parenting every child the same.It implies we will know our children well enough to guide them in their education just as we do in their physical and spiritual development.I wish I could say that Christian parents are doing a better job ofthat than anyone,but the Christian parents arejust as busy,and tend not to sacrifice other priorities to make time for their kids." As the father offour,Tom has had many opportunities to follow or forget his own advice."Even my identical twin boys have different personalities. One is more ofan entertainer,and the other is more serious. Taking responsibility for your child's education means knowing each child—his or her strengths and weaknesses—and being realistic about your expectations. Parents probably have the best handle on the ability ofthe child." With this attitude,it is no surprise the parents at Possum are supportive ofthe school.Tom knows the parents have high expectations and want their children to learn in an environment with well-defined guidelines."You can't escape the Cedarville College influence in the l'om Al( Gana 41 public.rcho,,/ prolcj/) ii ana /oil:ei of Sicre Kara ilic(iiam% Altaphy . school , Springfield Local School District. We're a conservative school district, and have recruited many ofour teachers from Cedarville." And the Possum staff works to keep parents involved."I expect my teachers to call parents at the first sign of difficulty and ask for a conference. We like to get parents in the building." "To be successful in school,children need to sense that the parents value education. Most of all, parents have to provide some kind of structure in the home,especially for older kids who have homework to do on a regular basis." But, Tom says,establishing such a routine may mean sacrifice from the parents."You have to be home. And you have to be accessible to the child in a place where you won't be interrupted. We worry about the kids' study habits, but a lot of parents think they can help their child with homework while watching TV." The children in the McGinnis family have attended public and Christian schools,and Tom and Carol considered home schooling their children at one time. Tom accepts all ofthese as good options, as long as the parents' decision is based on what is best for each child. For parents of public school children, he recommends getting involved with the school and asking the children what they are being taught."Not many parents sit down with the children at the evening meal and ask, 'What did you learn today?' But every school is different,just like every child. Do you know whether your school is teaching evolution as a fact or a theory? Do you know what the social studies curriculum is teaching about our responsibility to other people and the environment? The best way to find out is to ask your kids." "Teachers are being fed propaganda about so-called militant,right-wing Christians, and some are buying it. The biblical admonition that'A soft answer turneth away wrath' works when you go to talk to the teacher or principal. Christian parents,and their values, will be welcomed in the school if they go in offering to help,not demanding their rights. When you approach people with respect,suggest ways to make things better, and talk to the person who can make the decisions, then you show that your concern for your child is a positive thing for the school."