Hailed as an entirely new approach to addressing developmental deprivation in children, parent education to upgrade child-care practices in the home shows signs of becoming the pet educational reform of the 1970s. But is parent education as new as its proponents claim? In this article, Steven L. Schlossman notes that it is not and traces part of its long history in this country. He concentrates primarily on the development of the first nationwide parent-education organization, which became the PTA, and on the contributions of behavorial science to its mission. From an initial emphasis on changing society by organizing mothers of the nation in common cause, the PTA—joined by other groups—changed in the 1920s to become a movement of and for the middle class. Schlossman explores this evolution,concluding that current policy on parent education will be much the poorer for ignoring this history, that the value choices in behavioral science must be made clear, and that current efforts in parent education—while promising—can no more be an educational panacea than were past reforms.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.