After almost ten years of declining use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD), the district began to see increases in 1998. The rate of use has now climbed back to rates not seen here since the early nineties (County Juvenile Court Summary Report: 2001). The reasons are not understood, but the disruptive results to both academics and behavior are clear.
As is typical for rural areas, the opportunities for organized recreation are limited. The sheriff's office reports that the time frame during which the vast majority of incidents of juvenile (middle school age) violence and ATOD infractions occur is between 3:00 and 5:30 p.m., the time between school letting out and caretaker adults arriving home from work. The major cause is the lack of supervised after school activities to take the place of no adult supervision at home. An additional problem is the supervision of young children by their only slightly older siblings.
The literature clearly shows the relation between positively involved parents and success of their children in school, both academically and behaviorally. There is also a correlation between the income and education of parents and their involvement. The more educated the parents, the more they are involved in their children's education. The reasons are complex. For our purposes, we can summarize that those parents who themselves failed to do well in school as children, tend to avoid contact with school as adults. Walking down school hallways, sitting in school rooms, and talking to teachers brings back a set of learned negative reactions from the time when school was a place of disappointment and failure ("The Influence of Parent's School Experience on Involvement with their Children's Education," Journal of Education Psychology, January, 2002). Milk, Spoon, and Peaches).
Results from our community focus groups show that the vast majority of parents (for all practical purposes, all parents), regardless of income or education want their children to do well in school. The problem is one of not knowing how to help. The desire is there. The parent focus groups identified four main barriers. (1) Meetings are at school, a place with bad connotations for many. (2) Teachers "talk down to us and don't listen." (3) Meetings are scheduled at the school's convenience. The work schedules of many people are such that they need flexibility. (4) A substantial minority of caretakers lack transportation to get to and from meetings.
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