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HELP AT HOME, SUCCESS AT SCHOOL

Education Secretary Richard Riley had words of advice the other day that are hardly revolutionary but bear repeating: Students do better in school when their parents give them support.

Riley's speech was prompted by a new Education Department report that studied 30 years of research and showed a definite relationship between family involvement and academic success.The report showed that eighth-graders do better in math when they attend school regularly, watch less television and have more reading material at home - three areas where parents definitely have control.

It also said that reading aloud to young children is the most important activity in getting them ready to read on their own.

Such findings support Riley's assertion that "the American family is the rock on which a solid education can and must be built." But too often, he said, even families that do all the right things at home feel unwelcome in schools.

Teachers and administrators must openly enlist parents as partners in the education of their children, not make them feel like trespassers in school hallways. Parents who are not encouraged to become more active in their children's education should do so anyway.

Parents can get help in this goal from their employers. In some cases, businesses may be able to make work schedules more flexible to account for teacher conferences and other activities that let children know their parents will do what they can to help them learn.

Supporting such concepts is easy. Following through is the real test. School success is too crucial to receive little but lip service.