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Teachers: Low parent involvement a problem in W.Va. schools

Only about 5.5% of teachers responding to a state Department of Education survey described high parent involvement at their schools.

That was one of the big takeaways as state Superintendent Michele Blatt described the survey results before the Senate Education Committee today.

The result about parental involvement sparked a discussion, with comments by Senator Jay Taylor, R-Taylor.

“It’s almost student and parent apathy. I don’t know how we address that. It’s almost a cultural issue,” Taylor said.

Blatt agreed.

“It is a matter of no appreciation of the education system by the parents,” she said of some parental priorities. “It does go back to the culture and the mindset of so many of our communities.”

Other results from the survey included 64.2% of respondents describing their workloads as very challenging while about 35% said their workload is manageable.

About 55% of teachers who responded described adequate access to teaching materials.

And 84.4% said they feel supported by their school’s administration.

Those results are generally in line with the results of a recent survey by the West Virginia Education Association. That survey underscored perceptions of salaries, student behavior, and burnout.

The WVEA found a 73% dissatisfaction rate with current working conditions in the past year in education, with just 2% saying they are satisfied.

The WVEA survey showed that 39% of respondents described serious concern about parental involvement. About 80% of respondents described parental involvement as a somewhat serious issue.

As Fred Albert, director of American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, listened to the Department of Education survey results he concluded they were in line with what educators have been hearing across the state.

“I was not surprised at all, actually, because I think it pretty much mirrored the surveys that have been done the past couple of years,” Albert said. “Our teachers are feeling overworked, overburdened and they don’t think people are listening to them.”

He continued by saying student absenteeism and lack of support from the home are common concerns.

Albert said he hopes such surveys can provide context as legislation about schools is considered.

“Absolutely, we hope that could bring about bills that would help,” Albert said, but he also reflected on how much state government can truly do about educational attitudes in people’s homes.

“I don’t think you can legislative that,” he said, “but any help would be welcome.”