Parent Leader

News, opinion and resources for and about parent leaders who are becoming more effective advocates for better schools ... and for educators who want to work with such parents.

Monday, December 12, 2005

NYC parents want more say

Parents Advisory Council in NY City is pushing Chancellor Klein to enforce parent involvement requirements, according to NY Times.

"Essentially, these requests boil down to asking people to do their jobs," said Tim Johnson, the chairman of the advisory council and a parent leader in District 2 in Manhattan, who noted that after the mayor won control, the administration hired a full-time parent coordinator for every school.

"They are spending probably 100 times what they used to spend on parent engagement," Mr. Johnson said. "We're just not getting any value out of that. How can you have a full-time, union person in the school as a parent coordinator and still not have a functioning P.T.A.?"

Saturday, October 15, 2005

More on Million Fathers

Great story from Christian Science Monitor on Million Father March, this one focused on fathers' impact on Amistad School in Connecticut.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Communicating the value of parent involvement

New guide from the Learning First Alliance, a coalition of education organizations, encourages school leaders to proactively embrace the power of parent involvement as one of seven core values that drive educational improvement. Guide focuses on how school leaders can promote their schools and offers advice on how to talk about parent involvement...along with specific steps that administrators can take to make it happen in their schools.

Other six topics that school leaders should stress, says LFA: values such as hard work, school discipline, academics, accountability, benefits of public ed, and accurate public information (both successes and shortcomings).


What to Say
• When it comes to their children, parents are often more powerful than they believe. Parents can use this power to shape their children’s behavior so they can succeed in school—by teaching them respect and responsibility, by encouraging them to work hard to learn, by showing a consistent interest in their schoolwork, and by celebrating their accomplishments.
• We need parents as our partners to ensure that every child can succeed in our schools.

What to Do
• Describe how you support parents’ efforts to help their children succeed. Assist parents in understanding the curriculum and homework assignments. See that messages are returned promptly, teachers are available to talk with parents, and school meetings and events are scheduled at times that permit parents to attend. Then publicize these efforts with parents and the community.

Inspired in Indianapolis

Interesting interview with dynamic, new, no-excuses superintendent of Indianapolis schools, who pledges to "grow our own parent involvement."

Excerpt from the Indianapolis Star story: "He envisions a more challenging curriculum, while understanding the need to support struggling kids. He is planning a program to connect with new IPS parents from the day their children are born.

"That's particularly crucial in a district where so many kindergartners arrive already trailing children in suburban districts.

"When the children reach 4 or 5, not only do we want them connected to the school district, we also want the parent connected," he said. "We're going to grow and raise our own involved parents."'

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Million Father March

Chicago-based group, the Black Star Project, has organized back-to-school events in 79 communities, encouraging fathers to get involved in their children's education. Nonprofit offers multiple programs for parents and educators, designed to improve achievement for low-income and minority students.

Education Week reports: "The event is taking different forms in different places. In Kansas City, Mo., a radio station has offered to drive fathers and their children to school in limousines. In one Illinois town, the mayor planned to greet men as they brought their children to school. One Hawaii town organized an effort to get men in prison to write to friends and relatives and ask them to take their children to school in their stead.

"Here in Prince George’s County, Md., a predominantly African-American, largely middle-class community east of Washington, civic leaders asked parents to bring their children to school on the first day. They dubbed the event “Embracing Our Village,” in an attempt to revitalize the sense of communal responsibility for children in the oft-cited African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.'"

Friday, September 02, 2005

Maryland's leadership

Maryland state school board acccepts landmark report from a 125-person parent advisory council, calling for much greater efforts by the state and local districts to promote parent and family involvement. It represents the strongest set of state-level recommendations anywhere to support increased parent involvement--including mandatory parent membership on the state board, a huge emphasis on training for parents and educators alike, regular satisfaction surveys, and a call for local districts to factor parent satisfaction into staff reviews. State Supt. Nancy Grasmick is very supportive and I'm confident she'll push for implementation; some of the recommendations will require legislative changes. (Note: We served as the national adviser to this effort.) Washington Post story here. Report and related materials here.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Parents: "A Big Idea"

Parent involvement is one of 10 Big Ideas for Better Schools being promoted by the George Lucas Foundation. Excerpt below from the latest issue of its magazine, Edutopia. The Sept. 2005 also includes an excellent article about how to rethink how we use school time more effectively. Did you know, for instance, that in 42 states only 41% of postsecondary school time must be spent on academics?

When schoolwork involves parents, students learn more. Parents and other caregivers are a child's first teachers and can instill values that encourage school learning. Schools should build strong alliances with parents and welcome their active participation in the classroom. Educators should inform parents of the school's educational goals, the importance of high expectations for each child, and ways of assisting with homework and classroom lessons.

Reality Check: In the Sacramento Unified School District, teachers make home visits to students' families. Teachers gain a better understanding of their students' home environment, and parents see that teachers are committed to forging closer home-school bonds. If English is not spoken in the home, translators accompany the teachers.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Did your district make the list?

Standard & Poor's has identified 203 school districts in 13 states for significantly narrowing the gaps in achievement between black, Hispanic or economically disadvantaged students and their higher-performing classmates while simultaneously raising the average proficiency rates of the student groups being compared, such as black students and white students. Gaps were closed by at least 5% in the districts. States studied: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia and Washington. Read more.

Train the teachers

New report from a group of progressive organizations recommends that "training on techniques for communicating and engaging parents should be part of teacher training and professional development programs." Parent involvement rates only a paragraph in the 85-page report, but something is better than nothing. Majpor recommendations call for greatly expanding funding, adopting voluntary national standards, and extending and reorganizing the school day and school year. The report, "Getting Smarter, Becoming Fairer: A Progressive Education Agenda for a Stronger Nation," is available from the Center for American Progress.