The Best Posts On Involving Fathers In Schools

The topic of increasing the involvement of fathers in schools has been garnering some attention lately, and I thought I’d bring together some of the previous posts on the topic together.

I was prompted to do so by today’s article in The Washington Post, Schools roll out the red carpet for dads who volunteer.

Coincidentally, I believe tonight’s #PTchat on Twitter was on this same subject, and I’ll a link to its transcript when it becomes available (here it is).

Here are my previous posts:

“Dads read to children in LA school to promote literacy”

“Nevada PTA Sets Example on Male Engagement”

“Engaging Fathers in Education”

“Houston Dad Learns Valuable Lessons Volunteering at School”

Feel free to make other suggestions in the comments section.

I’ll be adding this list to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.

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inBloom Officially Folds, Blaming Everybody But Itself & Its Funders For Failure

I’ve chronicled the ongoing fiasco of the Gates Foundation-founded-and-financed inBloom student data-vacuuming service called inBloom (see The Best Posts On The inBloom Data Fiasco).

As usual, these guys never bothered asking parents and teachers what they thought before they initiated their bright idea and, now that today they announced its dissolution, they’re blaming everybody but themselves and their funders.

You can read all about it at these two articles:

InBloom Student Data Repository to Close is from The New York Times.

inBloom to Shut Down Amid Growing Data-Privacy Concerns is from Education Week.

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“The Middle Ground Between Opt Out And All In”

The Middle Ground Between Opt Out And All In is a very thoughtful post by Matthew Di Carlo at The Shanker Blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

when it comes to “opting out,” what’s important to me is the idea that you don’t have to agree with its proponents’ solution to acknowledge that they may be correct about the existence of a problem. There are good and bad policy applications happening right now, and it’s important to address the bad ones and build on the good ones.

I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children.

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Free Webinar With Anne Henderson This Tuesday On Parent Engagement

Anne Henderson, one of the top — if not THE top — expert on parent engagement in the U.S., is leading a free Webinar this Tuesday. Here’s the information that I’m copying and pasting from the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education:

Free Webinar, April 22: High-Impact Strategies to Engage Families & Enhance Student Achievement

A free webinar on Tuesday, April 22, 2:00 PM — 3:30 PM ET

Anne T. Henderson, internationally recognized family engagement expert, will discuss high impact strategies to engage families and improve student achievement. Anne will offer concrete examples and guidance on how to better connect with families.

Hear from a parent of youth enrolled in a 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program and a 21st CCLC program director as they discuss on-the-ground family engagement experiences.

Get strategies and resources you can use to engage families and enhance youth outcomes.

This webinar will offer:

  • High Impact Strategies
  • On-the-Ground Experiences
  • Useful Resources
  • Opportunity for Discussion

You will also hear from Project LEAP, a 21st Century Community Learning Center based in Rochester, New York, about strategies they use to engage families in student learning.

Register here

This webinar is sponsored by the Family Engagement Resource Providers (FERP) project of Manhattan Strategy Group.

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The Best Commentaries On The “Broken Compass” Parent Involvement Book

Don’t Help Your Kids With Their Homework is the title of an article that appeared a few weeks ago in The Atlantic.  It was written by Dana Goldstein.

It describes research shared in a new book, The Broken Compass:Parental Involvement With Children’s Education by two professors which, at least according to Dana Goldstein, questions most the effectiveness of what most of us would typically consider parent involvement/engagement. Based on what The Atlantic article says, this new research apparently disproves most of what you’ll find at “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

I’m not convinced that everybody else is wrong and these professors are right, but I’ve ordered the book to see for myself what they have found.

The authors followed that up with a guest column in The New York Times with the decidedly unhelpful headline, Parental Involvement Is Overrated.

I’ll be writing my own thoughts on it as soon as I finish reading the books but, in the meantime, here are a few other commentaries written by others:

Inflated Research Claims Can Harm Children: Why “parental involvement” is not a “broken compass.” is a post by Marilyn Price-Mitchell that is also skeptical.

And respected parent engagement expert Karen Mapp recently sent out this tweet:

Speaking of tweets, here’s one sent out by researcher/author Alfie Kohn:

Correlation does not imply causation (parental involvement edition) is from Simply Statistics.

The New York Times published three letters to the editor on the infamous “Broken Compass” parent involvement op-ed and book.

The first one is good and the second one, by parenting researcher and professor Wendy Grolnick, is excellent.

I’ll be adding more to this list.

And I’ll be adding this post to A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.

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“The relationship between single mothers and poverty is not as simple as it seems”

As most people know, there is a common narrative suggesting that single-parent households can be a cause of many problems affecting children — in and out of school.

I’ve previously posted some articles questioning that view (see The Best Articles Questioning The View That Single Parents Are A Problem), and a new article has just been published raising more questions.

Check out The relationship between single mothers and poverty is not as simple as it seems at The Washington Post.

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“Ombudsman” Hired In D.C. To Work With Families

D.C. Board of Education names ombudsman as liaison between families, schools is the headline of a recent article in The Washington Post.

Here’s an excerpt:

D.C. parents have a new place to take their questions and complaints about city education: Joyanna Smith, the independent ombudsman charged with helping families navigate the District’s traditional and charter schools.

Smith is a lawyer and former charter school official who will serve as a clearinghouse for parents’ concerns and as a mediator to help resolve problems. She is only the second person to fill the position, which was created by the same law that established mayoral control of the schools but has been left vacant and unfunded since fiscal 2010.

It sounds like a positive development for families, but a bit odd. I’m not aware that other districts have “ombudsman” and, instead, have staff in some kind of parent involvement office. Ombudsman are usually fairly independent from the organization that hires them.

Are D.C. families so mistrustful of the district that they need to have an independent watchdog help them out? Or is it just a quirk in the law? If it’s the former, it seems to me the District has a lot of family engagement work they better start doing….

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Kellogg Foundation Announces Nearly $14 Million In Grants For Parent Involvement Programs

I’ve previously posted about the Kellogg Foundation’s initiative to fund parent involvement/engagement programs targeting families with children age eight and below.

They just announced a new set of grants and I thought it would be useful just to reprint their press release since it listed all the grantees.

Unfortunately, they didn’t send out anything indicating what specific efforts they were funding and, of course, we don’t know what they chose not to fund. In other words, right now there’s no telling what their definition of  what a “transformative family engagement program” really looks like to them. (They’ve now made that list available, and you can see the grant descriptions here)

With luck, they’ll be sharing more information about the grants soon…

W.K. Kellogg Foundation announces recipients of $13.7 million investment to empower parents as leaders and key decision makers in education

Thirty organizations from 18 states and the District of Columbia to create opportunities that connect schools, communities and families for economic and early school success

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) is pleased to announce a total investment of $13.7 million to 30 exceptional organizations developing and implementing transformative family engagement programs in the field of early childhood education.

In September 2013, WKKF received more than 1,130 applications for this investment, the most ever received for a single funding opportunity in the foundation’s 83-year history. The unprecedented interest and clear demand from the field was an important indication about both the need and opportunity to invest in efforts that would result in increased family engagement in a child’s academic life.

“This was an eye-opening moment for us. We knew there was a need and a value around the issue of family engagement, but we didn’t realize the extent of the shared value around families’ desire to more deeply engage in their children’s education,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation. “We are actively seeding and cultivating authentic family leadership programs that create opportunities for parents to be engaged from the very beginning of their children’s education.”

The 30 organizations share WKKF’s commitment to family engagement, which:

  • Is defined as a shared responsibility between families, schools and communities for student learning and achievement;
  • Is a continuous process from birth to third grade and beyond that occurs in multiple settings where children learn;
  • Takes place in environments where empowered parents and families are leaders; and
  • Requires a shift in national conversations so that all families are viewed as powerful assets for their children’s education.

“All too often families are not at the table when it comes time to make major decisions impacting their children’s education,” said Carla Thompson, vice president for program strategy at WKKF. “These organizations recognize that family engagement is a core strategy connected to improving learning outcomes and are working tirelessly to lift up the voices of families in an effort to set all children on a path to success.”

A complete list of the 30 winners is provided below:

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“Why ‘parental involvement’ is not a ‘broken compass.’”

I’ve written a couple of posts skeptical of claims made by authors of a new book on parent involvement called The Broken Compass, with the most recent one about their op-ed piece in The New York Times on Sunday.

Inflated Research Claims Can Harm Children: Why “parental involvement” is not a “broken compass.”
is a post by Marilyn Price-Mitchell that is similarly skeptical.

And respected parent engagement expert Karen Mapp recently sent out this tweet:

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“More than 20% of [British] parents say they have been fined for unauthorised holidays”

More than 20% of parents say they have been fined for unauthorised holidays is the headline of an article in the British newspaper The Guardian.

Here’s how it starts:

More than 20% of parents say they have been fined for taking their children on unauthorised holidays during the school term, while a majority of parents have lied to avoid getting into trouble, a national survey has found.

Wow. I’m not sure what world the British schools live in, but that system sure wouldn’t work in California and, I assume, in many other states with large Latino populations. We always have a sizable number of families (though the numbers seem to be getter smaller) who visit Mexico for extended periods of time.

I’d rather the kids didn’t stay out of school, but I live in the world as it is, not as I’d like it to be. I’d rather students tell me what’s going on so we can arrange for work they can do while they’re gone so that, when they return, they are not as behind as they could be. And I sure don’t think fining parents is going to promote positive school/family partnerships…..

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Parent Coordinators and Parent Engagement

I’ve written a lot about Elisa Gonzalez, our school’s extraordinary parent coordinator. Her work is invaluable to our school’s overall success.

As part of New York City Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s often-stated goal to increase parent engagement there, a New York City parent coordinator has some suggestions for her:

As part of her pledge to boost parent involvement, I hope Fariña considers reinforcing the role of the parent coordinator. The way things stand now, she might be tempted to scrap them: the D.O.E. would save upwards of $39,000 per school per year—the figure at which parent coordinator salaries have been capped since 2003 (many make less).

But for this modest investment—a sliver of the D.O.E.’s $25 billion annual budget—I would argue that students and families are getting a bargain.

A more fruitful strategy would be to elevate the authority of parent coordinators and leverage their capacity to get adults engaged in the school. Train them in working with families and kids in crisis, with students with serious behavioral problems—in managing the daily realities of our system. And make the job worth sticking to, by creating channels for advancement and raising salaries.

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“Parental Involvement Is Overrated” — Um, No It Isn’t

I’ve previously posted about a new book on parent involvement research that pretty much suggests most previous research on the topic is wrong (see New Book & Research On Parent Involvement, & It’s Potentially Very Unhelpful).

The authors have a guest column in The New York Times with the decidedly unhelpful headline, Parental Involvement Is Overrated.

I have obtained the book, and it’s on my “to-read” stack. I’ll eventually get around to writing a more extensive piece on it. As I said in my previous post, I’m not convinced that everybody else is wrong and these professors are right.

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Not Very Useful Report On Community Schools Released

Education Week reports on a paper just released from UCLA’s UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools that’s fairly critical of how many community schools operate.

I’ve got to say that I was less-than-impressed by the report.

I certainly have been critical (see The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools) of a number of community schools’ efforts, particularly what is often a lack of parent engagement (many tend to look at families as “clients” instead of “partners”), but the report doesn’t even mention that problem.

Despite that criticism, though, I’m convinced that pretty much any kind of “Community School” that offers additional services is an asset, but it doesn’t appear that the report’s authors necessarily agree. I’ve got to wonder how many, if any, community schools the authors actually visited. Their critiques tend to be a bit polemic rather than practically useful.

It does say a Community Schools effort should be schools-led, which is good, but I don’t think there’s much of a question about that point, anyway.

I’m very open to hearing other opinions, including ones that suggest I’m being too harsh in my assessment.

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I Think This School Needs To Rethink How They Relate To Parents: “Parents reprimanded for taking children out of school for family funeral”

Parents reprimanded for taking children out of school for family funeral is the headline of an article in the British newspaper, The Telegraph.

Here’s how it begins:

Two parents have received a written warning after their children missed school to attend their grandfather’s funeral.

Andrew and Danielle Overend-Hogg were told that their children, aged nine, five and three, had taken an unauthorised absence.

The letter also threatened that any repeat of the absence could lead to Teagan,nine, Isla, five and Elsie-Mae, three could lose their places at Sheffield’s Handsworth Ballifield Primary School.

I’m adding this to The Worst Parent Engagement Ideas.

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