The parents of Damion Frye's ninth-grade students are spending their evenings this fall doing something they thought they had left behind long ago: homework.
So far, Mr. Frye, an English teacher at Montclair High School, has asked the parents to read and comment on a Franz Kafka story, Section 1 of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" and a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Their newest assignment is a poem by Saul Williams, a poet, musician and rapper who lives in Los Angeles. The ninth graders complete their assignments during class; the parents are supposed to write their responses on a blog Mr. Frye started online.
If the parents do not comply, Mr. Frye tells them, their child's grade may suffer - a threat on which he has made good only once in the three years he has been making such assignments.
The point, he said, is to keep parents involved in their children's ' education well into high school. Studies have shown that parental involvement improves the quality of the education a student receives, but teenagers seldom invite that involvement. So, Mr. Frye said, he decided to help out.
"Parents complain about never getting to see their kids' work," he said. "Now they have to."
Some parents, he added, seem happy to revisit their high school years.
"There was one parent last year who would write pages and pages of stuff. It was great, so good to read," said Mr. Frye, who graduated from Montclair High in 1994.
Others are more resistant. "When my daughter told me about the homework, I looked at her and said,