Home Visits for Relationships, Relevance, and Results is a thoughtful article in ASCD Educational Leadership. It’s by Julia Zigarelli , Rebecca Nilsen , Trise Moore , and Margery Ginsberg.
I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits.
Teacher Jenny Orr writes about a fun, creative and successful Bedtime Reading At School event she organized with parents and her colleagues.
Here’s an excerpt:
We invited families to come in their pajamas and we wore ours too. In the beginning of the evening, as families were arriving, we started together in a resource room. The kids got the chance to stamp bookmarks and I read them a big book.
Read her post to find out what happened next….
California parents on school participation is a new article in The San Francisco Chronicle.
Here are some excerpts on the unsurprising results of a new survey:
Wealthy parents are more likely to make cookies for bake sales, volunteer in classrooms and be otherwise involved in their children’s schools than lower-income mothers and fathers. That’s the conclusion of a survey of California public school parents released Thursday….
“There had been no other poll, really, that drilled down to give us a baseline to see how involved parents are, what the attitudes are to their schools,” Freedberg said. “We asked parents what it would take to get more involved.”
The answer: Parents want to participate more, but schools need to make it easier, Freedberg said of the results.
“Parents are more likely to cite a lack of time, rather than a lack of interest or a system that is unreceptive to their input, as an obstacle to greater participation in advising and decision-making,” the survey concludes.
Parents want translators, advance notice of meetings, weekend options and perhaps most importantly, they want to know their input matters, the poll found.
The Harvard Family Research Project has just announced the formation of a Parent University Network.
Here’s how they describe it:
First launched in the 1980s, Parent Universities have become a promising capacity-building mechanism across the country to help families develop knowledge and skills that enable them be proactive in their children’s learning and growth. Parent Universities are parent education programs that offer a variety of opportunities, including courses, trainings, and other activities to help parents ensure their children’s success. HFRP has identified 140 Parent Universities and is committed to helping them connect on key issues and learn about innovative and promising practices from each other.
I have shared my perspectives on these types of academies at My Best Posts On Parent “Academies” & “Universities.”
I do hope that HFRP use their influence to move many of them away from “off the shelf” curriculum towards a genuine parent engagement model where parents identify what they want to learn and are help determine how it is taught to them….
A proposed bill in Utah has got to be the latest addition to The Worst Parent Engagement Ideas:
Utah Republican State Senator Aaron Osmond has introduced a bill that would make this a new law:
students who fail to achieve academic proficiency would be required to participate in remediation, the cost of which would be charged in full or in part to their parents.
Here’s the response from a member of the State School Board:
“I think it’s better if we can find ways to engage parents in schools in positive ways and encourage these parent-teacher partnerships and not have to legislate what parents will do and what they will pay for if they don’t do it,” she said. “It can just come across, I think, as punitive or heavy-handed if you’re not careful.”
Parent involvement at L.A. schools getting new look is an article looking at various ways parents are organizing around school issues.
It ends with an important quote from Charles Kerchner, “a professor at Claremont Graduate University who studies labor and education politics”:
“When there are disputes between unions and districts,” he said, “the side parents align with typically wins.”
For that quote alone, I’m adding this to The Best Reasons Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame.
Teacher Trips Can Help Students Learn is an interesting article by Joe Nathan about what one school is doing to connect with its neighborhood a bit more.
Here are a couple of excerpts:
Local field trips for students are common, but not so much for teachers. A Minnesota school recently took its teachers around neighborhoods they serve to help them understand more about their students and families…
Understanding and respecting the community can help a school and classroom be more welcoming, encouraging and successful. So, for example, Academia Cesar Chavez educators learned about the close, ongoing relationships between families it served and their extended family members who still live in Mexico. Part of what ACC educators learned was that many of the families are simultaneously working to support their families and to attend classes so they can learn or improve their English. Thus, it’s important to schedule conferences at times that will work for parents.
Closing a Fear Gap So Children Can Achieve is an article in The New York Times about genuine family engagement — teachers helping parents of their students navigate the immigration process.
Here’s how it begins:
The meeting began, as so many in middle-school auditoriums do, uncomfortably. Parents squeezed into chairs fit for 12-year-old knees. The speaker’s first question fell flat.
“Estamos listos a aprender mucho?” repeated Montserrat Garibay, an official with the local teachers’ union. Are we ready to learn a lot?
The response — “Si!” — sounded more convincing the second time around. So Ms. Garibay, 34, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that said “My Dream is Our Dream,” pressed ahead with her presentation. For the next several hours, she led a step-by-step workshop on navigating the country’s immigration laws, with a focus on President Obama’s pledge to let certain undocumented minors remain in the country.
Cartoons: Parents and Kids at Home is a fun collection at Larry Cuban’s blog.
It contains a lot of humor, and wisdom….
New York State PTA Calls For Yearlong Delay On Common-Core Testing is the headline of an article in Education Week that appeared in mid-November.
Here’s a key excerpt:
“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first state PTA to come out against high-stakes testing in this way,” Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing said in the article. “I wonder if this will lead to opposition in other states.”
We can only hope…
Parents want districts to keep them in the funding loop, according to feedback from bus tour is an Ed Source article about a bus tour in California organized by the California Endowment foundation.
The foundation organized the tour to encourage parent involvement in the state’s new funding process for schools.
As I wrote in my previous post on this tour, it sounds like it was a good opportunity for parents to share their concerns.
However, I just don’t understand why foundations do these kinds of things themselves. Why don’t they just stick to their job of providing funding to groups? If they had done that here, not only would they have involved parents, but they would have also built capacity for long-term parent engagement.
I’ve previously published a number of posts about the effort to collect and distribute student data and the campaign to have parents opt-out of having their children take standardized tests.
Now, the director of the Data Quality Campaign (funded by – who else — Gates) is bringing the two together by claiming that parents who opt-out of tests and, therefore, make that data unavailable, are equivalent to parents who don’t get their kids vaccinated and put everybody else’s kids in danger.
Come on, now. I think it’s possible to have a very reasonable discussion on the pros and cons — both in substance and in strategy — on data collection and opting-out of tests.
But ridiculous hyperbole likes this gives the appearance that some “reformers” might be feeling a bit defensive and desperate these days….
Engaging Fathers in Education is a nice post by Kevin Bennett over at the Teaching Channel.
You definitely want to read the entire post, but here are his suggested “tips”:
1. Don’t assume all fathers are the same. By predetermining what role a father should play in the school community, we inadvertently place them in a box which doesn’t allow them to be active participants in the process. Talk to fathers and hear their ideas.
2. Value multiple perspectives. Invite fathers to have a voice and share what is most important for their child. A father’s understanding and mind-set matters and sometimes provides a different perspective from the mother’s. These multiple perspectives can give students the skills they need to create their own successes.
3. Actively target fathers in communication and events. Don’t just call fathers for discipline issues, but call to share stories of academic successes. Reach out to invite them to volunteer in the classroom, chaperone field trips, or attend special events.
You might also be interested in my previous posts specifically related to engaging fathers in schools.
Bronx Partnership Aims to Build Parent-Engagement Skills is an article from Education Week about an interesting partnership:
Last fall, Mercy College opened the Bronx Parent Center to help improve student achievement by teaching, training, and supporting parents to become education advocates and active partners in their children’s schooling. The center wants to provide meaningful and individualized support for parents to assist their children academically, socially, and behaviorally from kindergarten through college.
Program aims to get parents on their children’s academic team is an article in the Los Angeles Times about a program I’ve previously blogged about called “Academic Parent-Teacher Teams.”
I’ll just reprint what I’ve said in an earlier post:
Admittedly, all I know about the program is based on the resources I’ve posted about it, but it seems to me to be pretty teacher-time intensive, data-driven, and leading with the “mouth” instead of the “ears.” I would contrast that with other family engagement efforts I’ve written about, including home visits, that tend to be more relationship and listening driven.
Let me know if you think I’m missing something…
I think closing schools is generally not a good strategy for districts to take (see The Best Posts & Articles On The Impact Of School Closures — Suggest More!). However, I can also see that there could be times when it would make sense.
One critical element of any school closure examination, however, is transparency about the criteria and process being used.
Philadelphia is demonstrating a perfect model about how to ensure it will be a disaster — parents and others are being completely shut out of the discussion.
Read about it at the Washington Post in In Philadelphia schools, is the ‘right to know’ the new ‘pay for play’?
Earlier this week, I posted about a Milwaukee Journal article titled “What to do if your child is accused of being a bully.”
Now, the BBC has published their own article on the same topic, What should you do if your child is ‘the bully’?
I think the first one is more useful to parents, but this new one is probably also worth a look…
What part of white privilege wasn’t clear? is a perceptive post by Alice Mercer about Education Duncan’s recent gaffe about “white suburban moms.”
A lot has been written about it, but Alice really hits the nail on the head….
An article came out yesterday about a controversy in San Diego surrounding a parent group funded by Rod Dammeyer, a venture capitalist and charter school supporter.
All I know is what the article says, and it appears that the teachers union is understandably concerned that actions by the parents group carry a hidden charter school agenda.
Yes, we educators need to look at parents as allies. At the same time, however, it’s a little mind-boggling to me how the parents group spokespeople can seem surprised at the teachers union reaction to them when they are funded — and staffed — by people connected to the state Charter Schools Association.
At a recent national conference of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, I led a discussion with people from around the country on organizing and parents. An issue raises was that the only grant money available out there for parent engagement was from rich “school reformers” who want to push a charter school and parent trigger agenda.
I think, more and more, we’re going to see that money corrupt genuine parent engagement.