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Getting Involved in Classroom Called Crucial

Advocates say Missouri needs to get more parents involved in the classroom. (Virginia Carter)
Advocates say Missouri needs to get more parents involved in the classroom. (Virginia Carter)
June 8, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- A group that's worked for more than two decades to get parents more involved in their children's education says a lot of work needs to be done in Missouri and across the country to beef up communication.

Project Appleseed is made up of mostly volunteers who try to get parents, grandparents and guardians involved in the classroom. The group's president, Kevin Walker, cited a huge communication gap between schools and parents. While some states have worked hard to improve it, he said, Missouri isn't one of them.

"Missouri's sort of stuck, so they can't get agreement on how to implement parent involvement statewide," he said. "Arkansas has been doing a good job in little pockets. You can see it in the communities that are doing it on their own, even without the state mandating it. Kentucky and Tennessee do an excellent job."

Project Appleseed asks parents and guardians to sign a pledge to volunteer in their child's school and to read to them for a minimum number of hours per week. Walker said a child's education suffers if there's no interest shown by the adults in that child's life.

"In a state like Missouri, where we rank 33rd in the country according to Education Week," he said, "these are important things to get in place for the 800,000 school children we have here."

Walker's group also is pushing for legislation to provide better Internet access for families. He said some will argue that affordable broadband just allows people to surf the web or watch videos.

"We're worried about when they do use it right," he said. "Even if they only use the Internet for 20 percent of their time to use it right, that would mean they'd be checking on school, checking on their kids, looking for a job, engaging themselves in the larger community."

Walker said he wants the federal government to expand the Lifeline program, which was set up in the 1980s to make telephone service affordable. It also would give those below the federal poverty level a subsidy to pay for an Internet connection.

More information is online at projectappleseed.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO