Volunteering in schools: Should it be mandatory?

Discussion in 'Parenting News' started by DS3, Sep 7, 2011.


Should Volunteering Be Mandatory?

  1. Yes

    0 vote(s)
  2. No

    11 vote(s)
  3. Don't Know

    0 vote(s)
  1. DS3

    DS3 New Member

    More schools requiring parents to volunteer their time

    A growing number of U.S. public and private schools are mandating that all parents provide some set number of volunteer hours per school year. The amount of mandatory volunteer time required of parents can range from as little as five hours per year to more than 75 hours. While the trend toward requiring parents to volunteer their time in their children’s schools is growing nationwide, it is not without controversy. Some parents feel such volunteer-hour requirements are an unnecessary intrusion into their private time and lives, while others may have difficulty meeting the requirements due to work and personal demands. However, many educators believe in-class volunteerism is beneficial to both students and parents.

    Cheryl J. Hearn, EdS, Campus College Chair at University of Phoenix North Florida Campus, incorporated mandatory parent volunteer hours into the public charter schools she administered and saw the benefits of doing so firsthand.

    “When I served as the director of instruction for The Arts & Technology Academy, a charter school in Washington, D.C., parental involvement was mandatory as part of the educational program,” she says. “The success of our educational program was due in part to the high expectations of our administrative staff and the increased parental involvement in their children’s education.” The Academy was recognized for excellence by the U.S. Department of Education and named one of the top charter schools in the United States by its administrator, Mosaica Education Inc.

    Jaime Januse, medication, Area Chair for the College of Education at University of Phoenix Central Valley Campus in Fresno, Calif., shares Hearn’s enthusiasm for mandatory parent volunteer hours. “I think requiring parents to volunteer their time in their children’s school is a great idea,” she says. “It helps get buy-in from the parents. It gets parents into the classroom and involved in their children’s education.”

    Prior to her work at University of Phoenix, Januse taught at a public school that served at-risk students who had behavioral problems and language-learning challenges. “Parental involvement is very important,” says Januse. “When there’s no responsibility placed on the parents in terms of their children’s education, it’s an injustice to the child. But when you connect the child, the parents and the community, it provides such a strong foundation.”

    At Januse’s school, administrators offered parents many different options for fulfilling their five-hour volunteer requirement, ranging from being a “room parent,” to helping grade papers at home on their own time, to serving as a chaperone on field trips, and many other options.
    The schools Hearn administered had much higher volunteer-hour requirements for parents.

    “We required anywhere from 24–70 volunteer hours a year from parents, depending on the school and the program,” says Hearn. “Mandatory volunteer hours benefit the growth and achievement of a school. Involved parents are more accountable for their children’s learning."
  2. DS3

    DS3 New Member

    Alright. This one kind of makes me upset. Don't you think if I had the time to volunteer I would? I want to know how I am suppose to manage my difficult child and get him his services, take care of the household, dog, and my youngest, and have time to be volun-told at my school with my husband being away - I don't have any times as it is. I think this is outrageous and should not be made mandatory. Not only because I don't have the time, but it's not really volunteering if you're volun-told to do it.

    Not too mention, the teachers aren't coming to my house to help me clean, take care of the kids, fix whatever is broken, et cetera. While I'm volun-told, who is going to watch my kids? Are they paying for the daycare costs too?

    Just makes me mad. Perhaps there's a side I'm not seeing. If so, someone please point it out.
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    Not for me! I have a hard time going to school functions let alone doing some volunteering. (yeah, I'll grade papers or cut stuff for projects, but that's its)

    The BIG problem with the most available volunteer hours ("room mom") is that it involves student contact. Which requires a background check, which costs money, which in some areas would make it difficult to find "qualified" volunteers.

    I'm plenty involved with my children's education as it is. I don't need 'help' in that area. I know many parents do, but generally they are the ones that would not "qualify" to be volunteers anyway.
  4. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I think in some ways I'm more involved than they would like, lol. Volunteer hours for such aren't feasible for most people, plain and simple. They want to *require* me, they can bleeping well go in to work for me while I do it.
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Background checks and such are usually paid for by the school system, if volunteer time is "required".
    Here, its officially "encouraged" - and checks are paid for. So... that part can be handled.

    Not everyone can get the time off to volunteer. Even if you are a stay at home mom... if you've got high-needs preschoolers, there's really nowhere to dump THEM while you volunteer, and you can't exactly take them with you.

    Just a theory - but I've often wondered if one reason it is NOT mandated here is that the school wants to reserve the right to "un-volunteer" anyone who "causes problems"... anything from inappropriate stuff going on, to not really being there anyway to... well, to just being a PITA parent of a difficult child who's using volunteer time to get a better handle on the situation.
  6. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    I work full-time. I am also not one of the gladhand moms who belong to the HSA, etc.

    I have volunteered over the years in my kids' classes but it was because I wanted to, not because I was required to.

    When my two oldest were little, we had them enrolled in a co-op pre-school. Parents could either volunteer a certain number of hours or pay a set sum. We volunteered because it was a choice. We had the money but chose to give the hours.
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    This is a horrible idea. Can you imagine an over-tired, stressed out parent who is only helping out at the school because it is required? now imagine that 'volunteer' in contact with your difficult child on a bad day.....recipe for disaster.
  8. Mamaof5

    Mamaof5 Guest

    I'm sorry I didn't go to school to be a teacher or volunteer teacher. I don't have credentials for it. I went to school for IT and multimedia design. That means a full plate as it is. My husband is a trucker and deejay, I'm a graphics designer and technician. I work two jobs and so does he plus take care of 5 kids, a household, errands, homework help for 3 out of the 5, have a kid that goes to a special school on top of that and almost weekly or daily appointments for the Special Education kids. Where in there can I volunteer?

    If I could volunteer I would have already.
  9. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Several years back, husband and I helped on O's PTA. Started well, turned into a disaster (thanks to one of the members being a friend of bio). The only time I could actually do anything during the school day, I took a couple hours off of work.

    The kids attend 8:20 - 3:20. I work 7:30 - 4:30. Umm... WHEN am I supposed to have the time?

    The football club did this - each player had to have 5 hours of time volunteered on their behalf by family members. This was NOT easy to do, with 2 kids - 10 hours. Fortunately, my parents, husband and I all worked it out together. Made it not so bad. But this was after work, and on weekends.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You already did. They just don't count it. You've volunteered to raise 5 kids. Even without holding down two jobs, that's plenty enough volunteering in my books!
  11. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Ummm, not to be pedantic but volunteering cannot, by definition, be mandatory...
  12. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    Maybe "conscription" would be a better word.

  13. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Our schools don't require a background check for parent/caregiver volunteers. They offer a few "training" sessions at the beginning of the year and stress that a volunteer is always to be under the direct supervision of an teacher/aide/administrator and never alone with the children. There are also a variety of ways to volunteer, if a parent is able and wishes too. I've brought home those Scholastic Books flyers and stapled them and dated them and sent them in the next day with Duckie. I've "glittered" items for the teacher for their class play. I've sent in snacks/paper products for special events. I don't believe parents should be made to volunteer, but please don't think you are locked out of volunteering because you have a day job. There are lots of ways to do, just talk to your child's teacher or PTA officer.
  14. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Oh, we do all kinds of stuff outside school hours... :biggrin: