Parent Trigger Ready To Bring Chaos To Ohio Schools

Schools in Columbus, Ohio, are bracing for chaos as they become a pilot project for using the parent trigger. The former superintendent (don’t you love it when people make decisions and don’t hang around to deal with the consequences?) offered the city up to the state as a place to experiment. The state has chosen StudentsFirst as a “neutral party” to be responsible for informing parents — Unbelievable!

You can read more about it at these two articles:

Nearly 1 in 5 Columbus Schools Qualify for Overhauls Under Parent-Trigger Law is from Ed Week.

StudentsFirst says it won’t play politics with Columbus schools parent trigger
is from The Columbus Dispatch.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning Why The Parent Trigger Isn’t Good For Parents, Kids Or Schools.

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“Duncan Urges PTA to Promote Education Issues in 2016 Presidential Election”

Duncan Urges PTA to Promote Education Issues in 2016 Presidential Election is the headline of a blog post this past week at Education Week.

It discusses one of the stops on U.S. Education Secretary Duncan’s annual bus tour at schools.

Here’s an excerpt:

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called on the National PTA Wednesday morning to make education a major campaign issue for the 2016 presidential election.

“I challenge you: In 2016, could we have a presidential debate around education?” Duncan asked a crowd of about 100 parents and teachers at the Oliver Middle School here. “Can the PTA force that debate?”

I’ve got to say that I’m not holding my breath. The PTA has a lot of potential power, but not anywhere near enough to force much of anything, and their political expertise is suspect, as was demonstrated in the last elections here in California.

But if they really did decide to become a serious player, I can think of far better things for them to do with their power than putting on a presidential debate….

I do hope, though, that they decide to eventually focus their efforts into community organizing….

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“volunteer forms scaring away parents with less-than-perfect pasts”

School Districts need to enter the real world and understand that being undocumented or having made mistakes in their lives doesn’t mean that they cannot help schools.

I’ve recently shared about how two school districts are mishandling this situation:

Charlotte Schools Say Undocumented Parents Can’t Volunteer In Schools — For Now, At Least

“Fla. School Board Candidate: Allow Some Parents With Criminal Pasts to Volunteer”

And, now, here’s another one, this time from Tulsa: TPS volunteer forms scaring away parents with less-than-perfect pasts

Do you have examples of Districts handling this issue with more maturity and responsibility?

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Guest Post From The Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project: “What School Reform Can Learn from Business: It’s not what you think”

As regular readers know, I’m a big supporter of the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project (see The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits).

Here’s a guest post written by Carrie Rose and Elaine Smith from the Project:

What School Reform Can Learn from Business: It’s not what you think

Change Won’t Work Without Relationships

SACRAMENTO: The world of education policy has been abuzz with a backlash against reformers inspired by the profit-driven environment of corporations. The New York Times recently ran an Opinion by Professor David L. Kirp of the University of California, Berkeley, titled “Teaching Is Not a Business” (August 17, 2014). Kirp says reformers bank on business concepts such as competition and innovation, but treating teachers like factory workers “might sound plausible in a think tank, but in practice it has been a flop.”

In the blogosphere, author Mike Klonskey and others question how billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s latest $120 million “gift” to San Francisco area schools will be used. Klonskey, in a recent blog, stated “What we know for sure is that all over the country, power-philanthropists are making “gifts” to resource-starved school systems. In return, the donors reserve the right to set education policy and funnel money to politically connected consultants and for-profit programs.” This follows an in-depth critique of Zuckerberg’s previous donation: a hundred million dollars to turn around schools in Newark, NJ in a 2010 ill-fated collaboration with Newark Mayor at the time (and now senator) Cory Booker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (The New Yorker, May 19, 2014).

Educators say that corporate tactics are a disaster, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Reformers who look to business models weren’t all wrong to take pointers from what works in capitalism. However, in a toxic atmosphere of politics and finger pointing, their vision got cloudy. Here’s what they missed: high-stakes testing and a competitive rewards system isn’t what makes a company’s products innovative, its markets expand, or its service excellent. Any veteran manager will tell you that relationships, up and down the org chart and in every link of the supply chain, will make or break the corporate bottom line. This is also, and especially, true in education.

As Professor Kirp states in the NY Times, “Every successful educational initiative of which I’m aware aims at strengthening personal bonds by building strong systems of support in the schools…The process of teaching and learning is an intimate act that neither computers not markets can hope to replicate.”

The power of relationships in school reform is familiar to the growing number of educators across the country that use home visits to build trust between schools and their communities. With a methodology that leads participants to question their assumptions and look for strengths, trained teachers and other school staff visit their students’ families at home, and then continue the relationship formed there to support the student. The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, which started the model in Sacramento, CA, serves as a training and policy advocate for a national network of affiliates using this method. Each affiliate is a partnership between the local school district, teachers’ unions, and community groups.

This collaborative approach builds both trust and expertise within families, communities and educators, making the system more responsive, accountable and effective for students in public schools. This model was featured in a best practice case study in the U.S. Department of Education’s report “Partners in Education: Dual Capacity Framework for Family Engagement,” and is considered an example of “high-impact” family engagement.

Studies have documented the many benefits of our model of home visits. The collaborative partnerships between families and schools:

  • Increase parental involvement
  • Develop trust and understanding among parents and teachers
  • Identify common goals for students
  • Help parents learn how to better help their children
  • Help teachers make meaningful connections and avoid burnout
  • Question previous assumptions, and reduce cultural and racial bias
  • Build trust on all sides


Parent/Teacher Home Visits improve school climate, because they:

  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Reduce suspensions and expulsions
  • Improve communication between home and school
  • Share accountability


Home Visits increase student achievement, such as:

  • Improved test scores
  • Higher school-wide API scores
  • Improved accountability for students, parents, and teachers
  • Differentiated instruction for academic and developmental success
  • Increased preparation for college and career

Schools and districts across the US, from inner-cities to rural reservations, have adopted and adapted our model. Home visits work for families. They work for educators. And, most importantly, they work for students.

As Walt Gardner put it bluntly in his recent blog: “When historians look back at the reform movement presently sweeping the country, they’ll conclude that it failed to deliver on its promises because it gave too little importance to the relationship between teachers and students.”

For more information about PTHVP contact:

Carrie Rose, Executive Director, The Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project                [email protected]            916/448-5290

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Newark School Fiasco Continues For Students & Parents

I’ve written a number of previous posts about the on-going fiasco at Newark schools, and it isn’t getting any better.

Some very understandable angry and furstrated parents called for a boycott on the first day of school last week, and there is some effort to make it a long-term one.

I don’t know the details on the ground there, but I do have to say from my community organizing experience that there is a long history of failed school boycotts (apart from one-day boycotts, which can be an effective show of strength with sufficient support) — they are generally just too difficult to maintain with parent work commitments and legal issues.

It does sound like the boycott of the first day had some success. I have to wonder, though, about the wisdom of trying to continue it.

Here’ are articles about the boycott:

Parents open ‘Freedom School,’ continue boycott of One Newark reorganization plan is from a New Jersey TV station.

Newark Schools Open, But Some Parents Boycott Over New Enrollment Program is from CBS New York.

Newark parents settle in for boycott is from Politico.

The Illusionist is by Bob Braun.

Newark superintendent urges parents not to boycott is from The Associated Press.

Parent Frustration Over Newark Student-Enrollment Plan Mounts is from Ed Week.

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“NY City schools will push for more ‘family connections,’ parent involvement, Chancellor Carmen Fariña says”

City schools will push for more ‘family connections,’ parent involvement, Chancellor Carmen Fariña says is the headline of a New York Daily News article.

Here’s are some excerpts:

Family engagement at schools will be getting an overhaul, the city schools boss tells the Daily News. Changes include longer one-on-one parent-teacher conferences, workshops for parents and support for GED and English as a Second Language classes for moms and dads…

…. In November there will be one-on-one parent-teacher conferences — with the student present.

Fariña said the by-appointment, 15-minute meetings on academic progress would be more effective than in previous years, when parents would stand in line for fleeting face time with their kids’ teacher.

It’s all part of a new model — codified in the new teachers contract — that allows teachers to devote at least 40 minutes of every school week to meetings with parents.

“I personally don’t think a PTA meeting is a good measure of whether parents are engaged in schools,” said Fariña, explaining the need for a new approach.

You can read my previous posts about Chancellor Fariña’s parent involvement efforts here.

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“Fla. School Board Candidate: Allow Some Parents With Criminal Pasts to Volunteer”

Fla. School Board Candidate: Allow Some Parents With Criminal Pasts to Volunteer is the title of a blog post over at Ed Week.

Here’s how it begins:

A candidate vying for a seat on the Pinellas County School Board in Largo, Fla., this November wants principals to have more control over how the district’s policy that bars most parents with criminal records from volunteering at schools is implemented.

Beverley Billiris, a former local elementary school teacher, believes the district should allow school principals to consider permitting parents who have “turned their lives around” after committing nonviolent or nonsexual crimes to volunteer.

It certainly makes sense to me!

You might also be interested in one of my previous posts: Charlotte Schools Say Undocumented Parents Can’t Volunteer In Schools — For Now, At Least.

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