“Concern over charter schools’ requirement for volunteer time”

Concern over charter schools’ requirement for volunteer time is the headline of an article in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Here’s how it begins:

At least 170 California charter schools are violating the state Constitution by requiring parents to volunteer up to 100 hours a year if they want their kids to participate in field trips and other activities or remain enrolled in the school, according to civil rights lawyers in a report released Thursday.

The Sacramento Bee has an even more extensive article on the report.

I’m all for parent involvement, but making it a requirement is a step too far. What’s particularly concerning to me is that, notwithstanding denials of charter operators, parent “violations” of this requirement are just one more excuse to “counsel out” students that they want to move out to regular schools.

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Guest Post: Report From National Parent Teacher Home Visit Conference

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of — and our school and local union is a very active participant in — The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project (see The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits).

They recently had their national conference, and I invited Carrie Rose from the Project to write a report on what happened:

ST PAUL, MN: A mutually empowering method of home visits as a way to connect teachers and families was the focus of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project’s (PTHVP) annual conference two weeks ago. The organization brought over 300 educators, parents, policy experts and community leaders together in St. Paul, MN in order to connect members of the national network of PTHVP affiliates, who continue to adapt and adopt the model in their diverse locations.

Evaluation and research on effective family engagement has been key to the development of the PTHVP model. So it was fitting that the organization’s annual Jocelyn Graves Award for Distinguished Service in Public Education went to two academic leaders this year: Karen L. Mapp, a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Anne Henderson, Senior Consultant, Community Organizing and Engagement, Annenberg Institute for School Reform. In addition to works published separately, the two have collaborated on several books on family and community engagement, including the bestseller Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family-School Partnerships (2007).  As researchers, they have evaluated the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project model. As authors, they have included this model of home visits as a best practice.

Presenter Michele Brooks, Assistant Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, who introduced Dr. Mapp, recounted “groups from around the country called the PTHVP office in Sacramento, asking for training, and saying ‘Karen and Anne sent us.’” The two authors were referred to by staff as “our fairy godmothers,” said PTHVP co-founder Yesenia Gonzalez, Training Coordinator, who introduced Dr. Henderson. So when the two women received the award, they were handed bejeweled fairy wands, which they immediately waved over the audience, “blessing them for their work” and “sending them to expand the magic of home visits throughout the land.”

Before the award was presented, Jim Keddy of the California Endowment stood at the podium. He shared his memory of Jocelyn Graves, for whom the award is named. In the late 1990’s, Keddy was the director of the ACT community organizing office, and Graves was a parent looking to forge a more productive relationship with her children’s school. They worked together to form the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project in 1998. A single mother with serious health issues, Graves nevertheless advocated tirelessly for her community, for HIV/AIDS awareness, and for education reform. Jocelyn Graves was a volunteer and trainer for PTHVP until her passing in 2007.

Other activities during the conference included over twenty breakout sessions aimed at deepening and strengthening the practice of home visits. Presenters were recruited from the grassroots movement, and the emphasis was on sharing best practices. For example, district leaders from Denver and Reno joined up to share their methods of visioning, planning and data collection systems, and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers led a pre-conference seminar on contract bargaining to include home visits.

Performing arts were represented as well. Tish Jones of Minneapolis brought TruArt Speaks, a poetry performance group for youth empowerment, to lead a workshop and a much applauded general session. Comedian Hari Kondabolu led a mirth-filled break-out session about telling stories with authentic voice, and later served on a panel about racial justice. The panel drew from the experience of different organizations and companies who have added racial justice to their mission, including the YWCA, Minnesota Air Pollution Control, Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, and Hackman Consulting.

Save the Date for the 9th Annual PTHVP National Gathering: October 22-24, 2015

GravesAward
Presenter Yesenia Gonzalez, Honoree Karen Mapp, Honoree Anne Henderson, and Presenter Michele Brooks, Jocelyn Graves Award for Distinguished Service in Public Education presented at the national conference of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project 2014.

Photo credit: John Castro

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Massive Lists Of Parent Involvement Research

The Harvard Family Research Project has created what they call Family Involvement Bibliographies.

Here’s how they describe it:

Family engagement strategies are changing to respond to innovations in education and technology, concerns about equity and opportunity, and expectations about school readiness. Research continues to provide us with new insights and a solid base for innovation as well as continuity.

We are pleased to share the latest research that can inform policy, professional development, and practice. These new additions to our Family Involvement Bibliographies series include a wide range of research studies published in 2012 and 2013 on such topics as:

Children’s media use in America
Parent and teacher support among Latino immigrant youth
Transition to school
Family-school connectedness and children’s early social development
Preservice teachers’ multicultural teaching concerns and knowledge of parent involvement.

I’m adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

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“LA groups model of community engagement”

LA groups model of community engagement is a good article from Ed Source about two groups in Los Angeles who appear to be doing some good parent engagement (and student engagement) organizing. I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of either of them before.

Here’s an excerpt:

What sets InnerCity Struggle and Community Coalition, a similar organization in South Los Angeles, apart is that they organize both parents and youth and focus on ongoing education issues, said Peter Rivera, senior education program officer for the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles.

“They are not one-cause oriented,” he said. “They have a model of engagement you typically don’t see in districts.”

Unlike other groups that push for change, the two organizations have “street credibility that has been developed and cultivated over time,” said Steve Zimmer, an L.A. Unified school board member.

“They have deep respect for the young people they work with,” Zimmer added. “That’s why they’ve been effective. When I choose to embrace a policy they bring to me, I know it’s got some real strong roots. When I choose to challenge a policy in any way, I don’t do it lightly.”

It’s definitely worth reading the entire article.

I’m going to talk with people in Los Angeles to find out more about them. Unless I hear anything negative, I’ll be adding this info to The Best Examples Of Parent Engagement Through Community Organizing.

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“To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents With Tips”

To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents With Tips is the headline of a New York Times article about a new study. It found that sending text messages to parents of very young children (like “Let your child hold the book. Ask what it is about. Follow the words with your finger as you read”) were more advanced academically than those whose parents did not receive them.

I thought that was interesting, particularly since another study that I’ve posted about in my other blog where adolescent students received encouraging texts was deemed a failure (I don’t have time right now to find that link but will add it later). Perhaps parents of very young children are in a more motivated frame of mind? I wonder how this experiment would work with parents of older children?

I’m adding this info to two “Best” lists:

“The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”

The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap”

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Interesting New Study On How Teacher/Parent Communication Impacts Students

A new study has been released on the impact teacher/parent communication can impact students.

You can read a good summary of the study, titled ““The Underutilized Potential of Teacher-to-Parent Communication: Evidence from a Field Experiment” — here.

There were several interesting findings, including that fact the messages from the teacher to the parent that included specific suggestions of what their child could do to improve in school were effective in generating student improvement (as opposed to receiving just positive messages). Of course, that’s not a big surprise, but I thought it was particularly interesting that it didn’t result in more conversations between the parent and their child, but the same number with a different content. Those messages also resulted in a less positive teacher/student relationship.

I’m adding this info to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

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“States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F”

States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F is an important New York Times article focusing on parent resistance to standardized testing, particularly in Florida:

which tests students more frequently than most other states, many schools this year will dedicate on average 60 to 80 days out of the 180-day school year to standardized testing. In a few districts, tests were scheduled to be given every day to at least some students.

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

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My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2014 – Part Two

Here are my choices for the best posts I’ve written on parent engagement in 2014  since June (by the way, you can find all my “The Best…” lists related to parent engagement here, including My Best Posts On Parent Engagement In 2014 – So Far):

Ridiculous British Rules On Parents Taking Kids Out Of School Face Growing Opposition

Listen To 13 Minute Interview With Me On Teaching ELLs & Engaging ELL Families

California Parent Groups & Effective (or Ineffective) Political Strategy

Newark School Fiasco Continues For Students & Parents

The Best Advice On Engaging Parents At The Beginning Of The School Year

“I Want Parents To Know This…”

My Best Posts On “Conditional Cash Transfers”

“Importance of talking to infants now on TV”

All My Ed Week Posts On Parent Engagement In One Place!

Guest Post: Parent Engagement In Scotland

“Power Of Community” Is A Must-Read Report

 

 

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Large Florida District Creates App For Parents

Pinellas schools hope app engages parents is an article from a Florida newspaper about a large school district creating a smartphone app for students.

Here’s how it begins:

Pinellas County schools have launched a new smartphone application meant to encourage parents to play a more active role in their children’s education.

The “PCS Family Engagement Mobile App” has a link for every Pinellas school and gives parents information on academic standards, student scholarships and ways to get involved in their child’s education. Links in the app provide “How To” videos to help children be successful in school, parent workshops and support groups, information on upcoming events, ways to volunteer in the district and family engagement tips.

The free app, available for Apple and Android devices, allows users to message teachers and other school officials directly, sends users notifications and adds events to the phone’s calendar.

I’m adding this info to A Beginning List Of The Best Resources On Using Technology To Help Engage Parents.

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New York City Mayor Vows Community Schools Expansion

New York City Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a huge increase in the number of Community Schools in the city.

You can read about his announcement in these two articles:

De Blasio Unveils New Plans for Troubled Schools in New York

Read Mayor Bill de Blasio’s speech outlining a $150M plan for school improvement is from Chalkbeat.

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

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Home Visits Are “about identifying parents and teachers as “co-educators”

All in the Family: How Teacher Home Visits Can Lead to School Transformation is an excellent article in NEA Today.

Here’s an excerpt:

This isn’t “parent involvement,” in the form of Valentine’s Day parties, or “parent communication,” in the form of one-way emails. Rather, this is about identifying parents and teachers as “co-educators,” who share respective knowledge about that student. It’s about helping teachers become culturally aware and parents seriously involved in their child’s education.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits.

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