Ban School Bake Sales Do American parents spend too much time volunteering at their kids’ schools?

Amanda Ripley:

American parents show up at their children’s schools. A lot. Nearly nine out of 10 attended at least one PTA or other school meeting in the 2011-12 school year, according to data released last week by the Department of Education’s National Household Education Surveys Program. Six out of 10 participated in at least one school fundraiser. American parents stay up late baking cookies for bake sales, and they leave work early for football games. It’s a remarkable investment of time and heart.
Yet over the past couple of years, as I traveled around the world visiting countries with higher-performing education systems while researching my new book The Smartest Kids in the World, I noticed something odd. I hardly saw parents at schools at all.
“My daughters’ school does not ask me or anyone else to do anything,” says Susanne Strömberg, a journalist and mother of twin daughters in public elementary school in Finland–the country where 15-year-olds rank No. 1 in the world in science and No. 2 in reading. She sounds almost wistful as she considers the absence of such solicitations. “No money donations–never!”