“Teacher: Why expanding ‘parental rights’ in public education sounds good — but isn’t”

Teacher: Why expanding ‘parental rights’ in public education sounds good — but isn’t appeared in The Washington Post, and offers an interesting take on the opt-out movement.

I think the piece exaggerates some of the dangers, and I still support the opt-out movement, but we do need to be careful of our rhetoric.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

If we rally mainstream America around parental rights as a cause, and advocate boycotts of the PARCC tests, I fear we are legitimizing the efforts of special interest groups who want to cherry-pick their way through the public education system. Will parents next be able to select which parts of science, or history, their children are allowed to learn? And will they then be able to opt out of sections of college entrance exams such as the SAT or ACT?

As we follow this slippery slope, some may try to opt out of having their children in class with gay students or teachers because of religious beliefs.

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“As Common Core Testing Is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out”


As Common Core Testing Is Ushered In, Parents and Students Opt Out
is an article in The New York Times.

Here’s an excerpt:

A new wave of standardized exams, designed to assess whether students are learning in step with the Common Core standards, is sweeping the country, arriving in classrooms and entering the cross hairs of various political movements. In New Jersey and elsewhere, the arrival has been marked with well-organized opposition, a spate of television attack ads and a cascade of parental anxiety.

Almost every state has an “opt out” movement. While its true size is hard to gauge, the protests on Facebook, at school board meetings and in more creative venues — including screenings of anti-testing documentaries — have caught the attention of education officials.

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

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March 3rd Webinar On “Parent Universities”

The Harvard Family Research Project is sponsoring a free Webinar on March 3rd, 1:00 PM (EST) on parent universities.

Here’s how they describe it:

Parent universities are committed to building parent capacity to support their child’s school success. To do so effectively, parent universities must continually respond and adapt to the changing and expressed needs of families. Join us on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (EST), to learn about some new resources and ideas that can help spark innovative thinking and planning for those involved in parent universities.

You might also be interested in My Best Posts On Parent “Academies” & “Universities,” where I share my concerns about how these kinds of parent universities are typically run in schools, and also share my praise for schools (including ours) which do them, in my opinion, the right way.

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Another Parent Trigger Effort Fails In California

Last week, another attempt at using the “parent trigger” to take over a public school failed.

Here are some articles on the effort:

Anaheim parents fail to convert struggling school to charter is from The LA Times.

Anaheim school board rejects parent petition to turn Palm Lane Elementary into a charter is from The Orange County Register.

Local Board Rejects ‘Parent Trigger’ Petition at California School is from Ed Week.

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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“Parents Support Later Start Times for High School”

Parents Support Later Start Times for High School is the headline of an article at Scientific American that schools might want to take note of…

Here’s how it begins:

A new, national survey released by the University of Michigan has found that 50 percent of parents who have teenage children would support later start times for high school. That number might not impress you. But it is much higher than even a few years ago, when many parents felt that such a change would cause practical problems. A steady drumbeat of studies showing that teens who start school later are healthier, safer and smarter is having a real affect on public opinion. As a result, more and more school districts across the U.S. are beginning the day later or are considering doing so.

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Most Popular Parent Engagement Posts In January/February

I’m going to start publishing a bi-monthly post sharing the most popular posts on parent engagement that I’ve published here. Some may have been published in other months, but still remained popular.

Here’s the first edition:

1. Important Study: “Money, Not Marital Status, Has the Most Impact on How Parents Raise Kids”

2. Useful New Study On Parent Engagement

3. Jeez, What Was Ron Clark Thinking?

4. The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences

5. “Want your kids to opt out of standardized tests? The Constitution may be with you.”

6. A Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement

7. Good Advice For Parents About Their Children Reading

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“Letting Parents In On the Secret Of School”

Letting Parents In On the Secret Of School is a good post by Peter DeWitt at Education Week.

Here’s an excerpt:

School leaders and teachers do their best to engage parents in the fun events or the ones that focus on report cards and grades like parent-teacher conferences. But we don’t always engage parents when it comes to those things that focus on learning. It’s a balance because we don’t want to always use educational language but we also don’t want to patronize them by using non-educational language either.

The bottom line is that when we are initiating changes within our classrooms and schools we have to make sure we don’t leave parents out of the equation.

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“Students take the lead in parent conferences”

Students take the lead in parent conferences is the headline of an article in the Alaska Star.

Here’s how it begins:

Gone is the long wait outside the classroom for middle school students while their parents or guardians talk with teachers during parent conferences. Instead, the Anchorage School District is moving to a student-led model.

It’s the student’s job to select which completed assignments represent his or her best and worst work. It’s up to the student to come up with improvement goals, and give an assessment of academic performance.

You might also be interested in other articles on the same topic, which can be found at The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences.

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“Smart Parents” Might Have Potential

Parents, Share Your Story: How Do You Empower Student Learning? is a Huffington Post article by Tom Vander Ark kick-off a project inviting parents to share “powerful learning experiences”:

We have partnered with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to tell parents’ stories and to bring together key lessons to create a resource that will help guide important educational decisions facing parents today.

Check out the article for details….

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Cross-Post: “Here Are Text Messages We’re Sending Home To ELL Students & Parents – Share Your Ideas”

I also published this post at my Websites of the Day blog.

I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers.

Alma Avalos, the extraordinary bilingual aide who works with me, and I are going to start intensively using Remind to send weekly text messages to our students and their parents (of course, only if parents agree).

This idea builds on the studies I’ve previously posted about that have shown these kinds of messages to parents have resulted in positive learning outcomes for their children.

I’m compiling a list of the kinds of texts, which will be sent in Spanish (thanks to Alma — my Spanish is not up to the task), that would be most beneficial to English Language Learners.

Here’s a list of what I’ve come up with so far (and I’ve only spent a few minute on it), and I’m hopeful that readers will contribute a lot more. I’ll then compile it into a master list and share:

For Students:

Please remember to use Duolingo at least one-half hour each night.

Do you have a book in English to read? If so, please read it. If not, please get one from class.

Please share with your parents what you learned in school today

For Parents:

Please remember to ask your child to tell them the English words they learned today.

Please remind your child to use the website called Duolingo for at least one-half hour each night.

Please encourage your child to read books in English.

Please encourage your child to watch movies in English with subtitles in English to help them learn.

You might want to ask your child to label different things around the house with the English word for those objects.

Consider asking your students to read to you in English.

We have school staff that speak several languages. Don’t hesitate to call the school if you have questions or concerns.

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Good Advice For Parents About Their Children Reading

A Few Words For Parents offers some good advice to parents about their children reading. It’s from the blog Catching Readers Before They Fall.

Here’s an excerpt:

Should I give my child prizes for every book she reads?

It is great to encourage a child to read more, but reading should be its own reward. When we offer kids pizza or stickers for reading a certain number of books, we are actually sending a message that reading is something unpleasant so we have to resort to prizes to get them to read. Also, when kids are counting the number of books they read in a race for a prize, they often sacrifice quality for quantity.

As the blogger writes:

If you are a teacher reading this post, feel free to duplicate it to use in one of your parent newsletters or to give out at parent conference time.

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Yes, Schools Should Help Students Who Are Obese &, No, Their Parents Should Not Get Fined

Puerto Rico has announced a plan to have schools help students who are obese to lose weight and become more healthy. Much of it sounds good.

However, I don’t think fining parents whose children don’t respond positively to the program is a “bridge too far.” I don’t

You can read more about the program at:

Puerto Rico’s controversial proposal would fine the parents of obese children is from The Washington Post.

Could fining parents cut childhood obesity? is from The BBC. Here’s an excerpt from the BBC article:

Hill dislikes the Puerto Rican proposal. “We need to move the argument away from saying it’s all about individual responsibility and ‘it’s you to blame’. People do have some responsibility but we must recognise the power of environment and how difficult it is to change for the rest of your life.”

Philadelphia – the most overweight of America’s major cities – has cut the obesity rate among children. The city authority has persuaded shops to stock more fruit and vegetables in areas once described as “food deserts” because of a lack of nutritious offerings. It has also banned full-fat milk from school canteens, as well as deep-fat frying, while sugary drinks have disappeared from vending machines.

“None of these efforts involved stigmatising or penalising parents,” says Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Connecticut-based Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. “In contrast, these changes exemplify ways to support and empower parents to make it easier to improve the health of their children.”

Puhl argues that a more integrated approach. involving schools encouraging better eating and more exercise, is needed.

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Useful New Study On Parent Engagement

The Maine Education Policy Research Institute has just published what appears to me to be a very useful study on parent engagement.

A summary of it can be found here, and the entire report can be viewed here.

I’ve only had a chance to scan it, but it looks helpful. One section that stood out to me was on student homework projects requiring family involvement. I don’t recall seeing previous research on that topic.

I’m adding this info to:

“The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”

The Best Student Projects That Need Family Engagement — Contribute Your Lessons!

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“Online Videos Aim to Help Parents Make Sense of Common Core”

Online Videos Aim to Help Parents Make Sense of Common Core is a good Education Week post over a 120 video collection (in English and Spanish) put out by Great Schools to help parents understand the new Common Core Standards.

It looks like you call also see them on YouTube. Here’s their introduction:

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Talking To Parents About The Common Core Standards.

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“AFT teacher brings community schools message to Congress”

AFT teacher brings community schools message to Congress is a post at the American Federation of Teachers site.

Here’s how it begins:

Stressing that the majority of kids in American public schools now live in poverty, a Baltimore teacher and AFT member urged Congress on Feb. 5 to battle that challenge through a redesigned Elementary and Secondary Education Act—one that helps schools and students overcome poverty’s deepest obstacles by supporting proven strategies like community schools.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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