Often practitioners confuse engagement with demand parents. One distinction between engaged parents and demand parents is accepting what a teacher and school provide versus getting from teachers and schools what parents want for their children.
Too often, engaged parents accept corporeal punishment and dress codes as exemplars of quality education. Work sheets and preparation for accountability testing are acceptable artifacts of good classroom and school practice by engaged parents. Regular participation in parent-teacher meetings is a hallmark of engaged parents and the responsiveness of teachers and schools. Engaged parents embrace the warm and fuzzy atmosphere of the local, community school despite a long legacy of low performance. And, too often student failure is the responsibility of the child, the family, or the community and not the teacher or the school.
Demand parents rarely see their family or community or the child as responsible for failure. Demand parents insist on comprehensive services and supports for their children. Long-term goals and objectives for their children are evident among demanding parents beginning in infancy. Clamoring for the same opportunities made available to the privileged is a characteristic of demand parents. In recognition of the limitations of teachers, classrooms and schools, demand parents scrape and hustle for resources to provide developmental experiences for their children at home and in the community. Demand parents insist that the best teachers in the school teach their children. And when demanding parents do not get what they want for their children, they seek alternatives in parochial schools, private academies, charter schools, home schools, or in other communities.
There is an appetite for engaged parents among practitioners and policy makers. A bogus explanation for student and school failure is the absence of engaged parents. In contrast there is little tolerance for demand parents, particularly in those instances when poor parents are seeking the ladder to lift their progeny out of the bowels of poverty—the promise of quality education.
Students and parents know the best teachers in their school. Engaged parents and their advocates demand and get access to the best opportunities for their children. And, professional practitioners honor the demands by any means necessary.