The PTA is an important part of a four-member partnership needed to make public education successful, says Superintendent Richard Kendell of Davis School District.
Kendell told a recent gathering honoring Region 3 PTA leaders that the PTA, students, parents and the schools are a partnership that must work together if students are to achieve their highest potential. He said students are the first element in the partnership and it is their individual motivation that will, in large part, determine their success."It all begins and ends with the student," said Kendell. "But a student does not need extraordinary intelligence to achieve and be successful."
Kendell said various studies have shown that the real key to academic success lies in discipline and hard work, factors that are tied directly to student attitude. "It is the willingness to work hard that is often the difference in achievement."
Parents are the second key. "Parents are the first and most important teacher the student will ever have. They are the most critical to the student's academic success."
Establishment of strong family values and an emphasis on reading, elements where parents can have a strong influence, are key factors in helping students succeed, Kendell said.
Schools are the third element in the partnership equation. Kendell said schools must focus sharply on learning and guard jealously the time they have with the students. He said every effort must be made to ensure that time is not lost to non-learning events. The amount of time spent on academic tasks is directly reflected in the academic success of students.
"Expecting high performance from our students promotes better academic performance," Kendell said. Kendell also said more emphasis must be placed on homework to extend the learning environment into the home.
The PTA rounds out the partnership and in many ways is the glue that holds the partnership together. Kendell said no other group has the same power to inform the public on critical issues facing education and to enlist the volunteer support needed to make schools effective.
Kendell acknowledged that much of the criticism being heaped at government and education is warranted, but he said much misinformation has been distributed and the PTA can be an effective tool in getting the true facts before the public.
PTA volunteer efforts in the schools, he said, make a significant difference in the quality of education. Kendell praised those efforts and encouraged PTA members to work closely with their local schools to tailor efforts to the needs of the specific schools. He said no other group can be as effective as the PTA in forging partnerships between the schools and the general public.
"Indeed, it does take a partnership and this is a partnership in which we can take much pride," Kendell said.