In the NYTimes, Parents Don't Change, But Children Do. This is yet another essay written by a teacher complaining about parents.
The teacher says "It may be acting out, or it may be turning inward, but when there is a giant hole in a child’s life, that is one thing that is never invisible." Well, maybe that giant hole was caused by a miserable school experience. Maybe the child is being bullied (by a student or a teacher), maybe the child is confused by a bad curriculum, maybe the child is bored senseless.
The teacher talks about a child whose grades went up, and says "Most children are not as self-motivated by an intrinsic desire to succeed." It isn't possible to have an intrinsic motive to succeed if the terms of success are defined by someone else. In other words, the desire to get good grades is not an intrinsic motive, but an extrinsic one. The desire to learn can be an intrinsic motive, but the teacher doesn't mention it.
The teacher says, "In four years, I have never seen a parent who started out absent get involved." In other words, in four years, the teacher has utterly failed to reach out to absent parents. Whose fault is that?
I am one of those dutiful parents who shows up for the parent-teacher conference, and in my experience it is almost always a waste of everyone's time.
Instead of asking, "how can parents be encouraged to be involved in their child's education?", I'd rather ask, "how can schools be encouraged to take responsibility for their students' learning?" Teachers can't control parents, as the essay notes, and their time would be better spent looking for ways to improve their own practice.