Ryland Mullins was cleaning out papers that his aunt had kept when he found a document titled, "What the Teachers Expect of the Parent."
Mullins' aunt, Vivian Breedlove Knight, had taught third grade in Lynch Colored School in Lynch, Ky., for about 17 years before moving to Columbus in 1954.
The document, with 16 highlighted points of expectations, seems to be a part of a future Parent Teacher Association meeting that was scheduled for Feb. 13, 1947.
Though we are now more than 63 years beyond the creation of that document, I think the points still hold true.
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For example, No. 1 on the list of what teachers expect of parents, is: "To send the teacher a clean, healthy, properly fed, and properly clothed child with necessary tools with which to do his work."
I don't think the importance of that suggestion has changed since then.
But I wanted to know how well those expectations were received by parents at that PTA meeting. So I called Mullins.
He said his aunt, who lives in a nursing home, turned 96 recently. Knight taught him and three of his siblings at that school which was the only school black kids could attend back then.
By phone, I asked Knight if the parents then heeded those expectations.
"Yes, they went along with it," Knight said with a bit of surprise in her voice. "At the time they did. It was expected."
One reason might have been the relationship the teachers had with their students and their families, she said.
"Not only did you go to school with your teacher, but you lived next door to them and you were likely to have them in Sunday School," she said. "I know you saw your teacher every day."
I asked Knight, who was valedictorian of her graduating class and who received a bachelor's degree from Knoxville College in Knoxville, Tenn., why some parents today don't live up to the expectations that were laid out so long ago.
"I don't know," she said. "That is a mystery."
Still, the expectations seem to be relevant today.
I asked Liza Holland, first vice president of the 16th District PTA which represents all PTA and PTSA units in Fayette County, what she thought of the list.
"I think I'd be ready to send that out today," she said.
"The research supports that students of involved parents perform better and all those things are about involvement."
Admittedly, at least one aspect of the list wouldn't be acceptable today.
No. 12 suggests parents "commend the good deeds of their children as well as criticize the evil ones."
I'm sure a child's negative actions would not be characterized as "evil" nowadays. But there is something to be said about praising a child's positive actions instead of handing out stickers for just about everything which is what we seem to do now.
There is no getting around the impression left by the document that teachers in 1947 held a degree of power and authority that many, including me, would say doesn't exist today.
My favorite expectation on the list is No. 4, "To frequently appear unannounced in the classroom and observe child's work." I loved doing that, but I had a sense that neither the teacher nor my child got as much pleasure from my visit.
The district PTA has a few things in the pipeline aimed at getting parents more involved with their children's educations, Holland said. On Monday, the PTA and the League of Women Voters will host a candidates forum for those seeking the 4th and 6th division seats on the Fayette County School Board.
The forums begin at 6 p.m. at Central Office, 701 East Main Street, Conference Room C. There will be opening and closing remarks and questions from audience members.
Next month at PTA meetings around the county, Holland said, PTA officials will help parents understand and access their children's attendance records, grades and class assignments through the Infinite Campus software that is available on the school's Web site or the school district's Web site.
"We have something every month except December," Holland said. "We try to engage parents more and make sure they are better informed."
Parental involvement was important in 1947 and it still is today. I think Knight would expect nothing less of us or that organization.