Similarly, students whose parents frequently meet with teachers and principals don’t seem to improve faster than academically comparable peers whose parents are less present at school. Other essentially useless parenting interventions: observing a kid’s class; helping a teenager choose high-school courses; and, especially, disciplinary measures such as punishing kids for getting bad grades or instituting strict rules about when and how homework gets done. This kind of meddling could leave children more anxious than enthusiastic about school, Robinson speculates....So is it that parental involvement is "essentially useless" or is it that parental involvement is good when the parents give good involvement, but if you combine good and bad parent involvement, you can't detect the value of the good involvement? The author of the linked article — Dana Goldstein at The Atlantic — concludes that parents should not help their kids with their homework, but perhaps the conclusion should be: Don't help them the wrong way.
Goldstein notes that the government has been actively promoting parental involvement in education on the theory that it will "help close the test-score gap between middle-class and poor students" and says that the new study — co-authored by Robinson and Duke sociology professor Angel L. Harris — has "largely disproved that assumption."
I'm skeptical. If poorly educated parents are trying to help but providing bad help because they don't understand the material themselves or they don't have sound ideas about how to learn, that doesn't mean well-educated parents, who grew up with effective learning habits, should not help their children. It doesn't even mean that those poorly educated parents could not learn how to provide more effective help.
But, as you might expect, the sociology professors are oriented toward policies that improve the schools that are available to children who are economically deprived. This policy goal is strengthened by undermining the belief that what these children need most is better parenting.