Parents Involvement Key To Improved Learning

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Last week, a group of Rim Country parents took an important step to improving our schools. They formed the Parent Teacher Student Organization at Payson High School.

On the face of it, they rallied behind the district’s struggling teachers — asked to do more and more for less and less. But in truth, the students will reap the greatest benefit from this latest effort by parents to get involved in schools.

The parents galloping to the rescue will meet again on Thursday in the high school auditorium. Anyone who wants to get involved can contact tina.terry@pusd.com. The newly minted leaders of the group include Penni Stonebrink, Tyler McMinimy, Leslie Owen and Fayth Lowry.

The group hopes to enlist parent volunteers to back up teachers supervising a host of after-school activities.

All of that will hopefully bolster the education of our children, according to an impressive body of research linking parental involvement with student achievement.

Children follow the example set by their parents and other adults. Having parents involved in the school system — in the classroom — will set a good example for children. Parents also need to be involved with their children’s homework at all education levels.

The more involved parents become with their children’s education the more successful the children will be in school.

For instance, Harvard researchers recently reviewed and statistically combined the results of 77 studies involving more than 300,000 students. The researchers found that almost any type of parental involvement translated into big gains for students, whether you measure those gains in grades, test scores or graduation rates.

Parental involvement had a bigger impact than student-teacher ratio, teacher salaries, the percentage of teachers with a master’s degree or the number of low-income students in the school.

So we salute the parents who formed the Parent Teacher Student Organization and urge anyone interested in the future of this community to attend Thursday’s meeting.

You can talk yourself blue in the face trying to convince a kid that education matters — or you can show up. Actions speak louder than words: Even kids know that.

Cell phones now pose deadly danger to teens

Cell phones have become perhaps the major killer of teenagers — since talking on your cell phone while you’re driving makes you a functional drunk driver and texting while driving is about 10 times worse.

In the time it takes a teenager to tap out a one or two word text, the car the teen is driving can travel 100 yards — plenty of time to shatter a family and produce another tragedy.

That’s why we’re so happy that a group of Payson teenagers who are members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) have launched Project Ignition, in hopes they can talk their peers out of doing something stupid.

That group of students recently landed a grant that paid for a trip to a conference in Washington, D.C. They came back charged with helping to develop a statewide strategy to make other teens aware of the dangers of distracted driving.

One survey of teens nationally found that 90 percent have either used a cell phone while driving or ridden alongside a distracted driver. By contrast, only 10 percent said they’ve been in a car piloted by a teen who has been drinking.

Cell phone use by drivers causes 300,000 car crashes annually, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study found a confusing hodgepodge of state laws on the use of cell phones while driving — with little evidence such laws do any good. Instead, the study suggested cell phone use by drivers continues to increase rapidly — especially among teens.

That’s why Project Ignition’s approach makes sense — especially when it comes to using teenage peer pressure rather than laws to keep our children from doing anything lethally foolish.

In the meantime, we hope that every parent in this community will have a serious talk about this deadly trend — more threatening to your child than alcohol, drugs or lurking strangers.

Parents must first set an example, then set the rule. Turn off the cell phone while driving. And ask to be let out of the car if the driver texts or talks on the cell phone while driving.

You wouldn’t hesitate to make that the rule with a drunk driver — so don’t balk at laying down the law about cell phones, which pose the greater danger.

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