Martha Harvey thinks it's just a matter of setting a good example. Mrs. Harvey is president of the A. Phillip Randolph High School Parents Association, and it's a commitment she and her fellow board members take seriously. They meet through the summer and at least two times a month during the school year. Some even give up vacation time. And some stay on after their own kids graduate, to help the next group learn the ropes.

``We feel that by doing, we exemplify what we expect our kids to do,'' Harvey says.

This is not a group that runs bake sales. They press the school for real changes, such as mid-term reports, which teachers resisted.

They also run political interference at the Board of Education for Lottie Taylor, the principal, such as supporting her in cutting an administrator instead of a classroom teacher.

Mrs. Taylor encourages such involvement. To her, lack of parent participation is the big gap in a pet conservative school reform: vouchers, which let families shop for schools.

Taylor is all for parental choice. But she thinks the voucher lobby talks too much about choice and not enough about responsibility.

``There is a broader obligation on the part of the parent once he chooses. The parent has to be a real parent.''

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