When Parents Drop Out

Too many harried moms and dads have been playing hooky, but schools are luring them back

For several years, the public schools of Norton, Mass., a college town an hour south of Boston, have wrestled with low attendance. The students aren't the problem; they're marked present for class an impressive 94% of the time. But their parents are a different story. The district invited 1,000 parents to a drug and alcohol seminar, but only two showed up. The turnout at some parent-teacher conferences can be just as paltry. At a public meeting, where droves of parents joined a heated debate on the future of Norton's middle-school basketball league, the room cleared out when talk turned to Item...

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