Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review August 30, 2000 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5760

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Helping out at school is more than an obligation -- ALL OVER AMERICA, kids are heading back to school (for the first time that includes my oldest who is off to first grade - I home-schooled for kindergarten.) Now, according to the just-out edition of the popular "Working Mother" magazine, "schools are demanding a lot from parents these days," too. They are supposed to ". . . communicate with teachers, pitch in around the classroom, raise funds to pay for extras (or, in some schools, bare essentials), help kids with homework, and show up for a vast array of school events."

Gee, what a shocker.

"Exclusive Survey: How Schools Fail Working Parents" was the grabber headline on the magazine's cover. The article itself suggests that things used to be so much simpler - and better. One working mother reveals that years ago, when she dropped her first son off at school, "the teachers would meet me at the door and say, 'All right, we'll take if from here.'" Now, with her second son entering 6th grade, she bemoans this new and changed world of expectations for parents (read: moms).

But what changed world is she talking about? When I was in elementary school, my mother did all those things, and then some. All our moms did. It was their way of being connected with us, our schools and our school years. I wasn't always thrilled about having my mother chaperone class field-trips, since it meant I had to be extra well- behaved.

But chaperone and bake and host booths at fund-raising carnivals and come to class events and meet with teachers and help me with homework and projects, she did. (Dad was there when he could be.)

And this was no mother with idle hands. At the same time that I, the youngest of her five, started school, she went back to college and within a few years finished her bachelor's and received her master's degree. And to my mom, "household help" meant only that we kids responsibly did our chores.

Still, she always found a way to put her children first. So, today's high-powered working moms are irritated that schools dare ask them to attend a class play, or a parent-teacher meeting, during business hours? As Joan Rivers would say, "Oh Pleeeease."

What's changed, of course, is not so much the schools, but the "typical" career-mom as featured in "Working Mother" magazine. (Hardly, it seems, the struggling mother who has to work full-time to put food on her table, who I'd guess is probably the last to complain about helping out at school when she can.)

These are moms whose big concern, according to the "Working Mother" survey, is that "getting to school events is often a lose-lose choice between blowing off clients and disappointing your child," as the magazine put it. "Working Mother" highlights the apparently typical view of a woman who "rails against the stay-at-home moms who can easily make it to daytime school events while she rushes over from work, having postponed a business meeting."

(No wonder I know some stay-at-home moms who feel inundated by school requests too - they are becoming part of a small, overstretched pool of helping hands.)

A majority of "Working Mother" readers want their schools to schedule "events and meetings for evenings, early morning, and weekends." Easy for them to say, but what about the family life of teachers who, I bet, are often paid less than these hard-charging "Working Mother" moms? Don't they have children and families they'd like to spend time with during those hours? After all, many teachers are themselves moms who have sacrificed their own financial aspirations to have more time to spend with their families.

Kids are not a hobby, though they are so often treated as such by parents today, nor is their education some unimportant activity parents need not bother with. It seems to me if a mother puts her clients and her children on the same footing, then she is failing both. (And, yes, I think dad gets a bit more slack here because - audible gasp - one of the ways a responsible father shows he cares for his family is to provide for it.)

"Working Mother" went on to suggest ways moms can help out a child's school while virtually never having to step foot in it, or find her child homework help on-line, instead of helping with it herself at the kitchen table.

You know, it's been a long-time since my dear departed mom helped pour juice during elementary school class parties. But I sure bet she wouldn't think these mothers have come very far.

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


08/24/00: Family time comes far down the summer schedule
08/16/00: A tale of two wives
08/09/00: The Brady Bill isn't achieving its aim
08/01/00: Attention feminists: How to really keep our daughters safe
07/25/00: Everything is protective: the parents, the gear, the age
07/18/00: Say it ain't so, Ann
07/11/00: Limiting a child's choices
07/06/00: Accounting for your health
06/21/00: It's a bad time to be a boy in America
06/13/00: The state of our unions
06/02/00: Federalizing care of kids
05/17/00: The natural food threat
05/09/00: To stop gun violence, keep families intact
05/03/00: Pass the fat, please
04/25/00: Something just for boys
04/18/00: When toleration goes too far
04/10/00: Women warriors
04/05/00: Confessions of a soccer mom
03/30/00: Getting an education about schools
03/22/00: If you're a parent, act like one!
03/14/00: Not child advocates, but self-advocates
03/06/00: McCain not what he seemed at first
02/29/00: An effective answer to social problems
02/22/00: The feminists' newest target: Toys
02/06/00: Harassing the harassers
01/31/00: It doesn't take a village to raise a child --- it takes a scheduler
01/25/00: Psuedo science and global warming
01/18/00: Socially responsible nonsense
01/10/00: Monica may be onto something
12/27/99: Sometimes it matters quite a lot what government thinks
12/17/99: Teens have no inherent 'right to privacy'
12/10/99: Buying a minivan and tossing the SUV
12/03/99: On the mommy track
11/05/99:The waste of recycling
11/01/99: Welcome to Harvard pre-school
10/22/99: No disaster for women that Dole is out
10/19/99: 'Humanitarian' hypocrites
10/15/99: On a first-name basis with a three-year-old

© 2000, Scripps Howard News Service