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The Dilemmas of Education

May 17, 1993

* Ms. Hecht looks at open house through the wrong end of the telescope. Her experience with one open-house event hardly serves as a justification for condemnation of a complex issue of concern to parents, teachers and children.

Last year at Taft High, after many years of evening open-house activities, a daytime open house was scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Whatever reasons went into scheduling it in the afternoon instead of the evening, the fact of the matter is that we had just about as many parents show up for the afternoon as when it was scheduled in the evening.

Our most recent open house featured a barbecue from 5 to 6:30 p.m., teacher parent get-together from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and college awareness program from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Again, several hundred parents showed up. But the overwhelming majority of these parents were the parents of children who are doing well in school and who live in geographic proximity to the school.

The standing joke about open house for teachers is that we seldom or never see the parents we really want to see--the ones whose children are frequently absent, never do homework, are failing all classes or are disruptive. These parents never seem to be home when we make phone calls, and the progress reports sent home are seldom or never acknowledged.

The district provides bus transportation for any parents of traveling students, but these buses bring few people in the evenings to open house activities.

I commend Ms. Hecht for her concern about her child's special needs, and I'm no more happy about the workings of the school district's bureaucracy than she is. But don't accuse teachers of playing education games. At the junior and senior high level, we have your children for an hour per day per subject. What are parents doing to monitor their child's progress besides waiting for progress reports or unsatisfactory notices to come in the mail?

ABRAHAM HOFFMAN

Woodland Hills

Hoffman is a teacher at Taft High School

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