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

I have a fairly popular post titled The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers.

I thought it would be useful to put together a different list focusing specially on advice to teachers on this topic related the beginning of a new school year.

Here’s a short list — each post contains links to additional resources:

Writing Letters To Parents At The Start Of The Year

“I Want Parents To Know This…”

7 Questions to Ask Parents at the Beginning of the Year is by Elena Aguilar.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

I’m adding this post to my Collection Of “The Best…” Lists On Parent Engagement.

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“I Want Parents To Know This…”

It’s that time of year when you start seeing posts and articles about what teachers want parents to know.

I Want Parents to Know This… is a particularly good one by Matt Gomez (thanks to Sheila Stewart for the tip.

You might also be interested in these other ones in the “genre”:

My Advice To Parents In “USA Weekend” is something I wrote last summer.

5 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew: Your Children Can Do More Than You Think is a good piece by Jessice Lahey in The New York Times.

10 things teachers wish parents knew before the school year begins is from The Today Show.

If you want to see a terrible example of this kind of list, check out one of my previous posts, Jeez, What Was Ron Clark Thinking?

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“Oklahoma PTA Unanimously Calls for End to High-Stakes Testing”

Oklahoma PTA Unanimously Calls for End to High-Stakes Testing is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Over 340 delegates at the Oklahoma PTA’s annual convention voted unanimously to adopt resolutions that call for a ban on policies that force the state’s public schools to rely on high-stakes testing and put an end to mass administration of field tests.

Wow! Wouldn’t it be nice if other state PTA’s viewed this as a model?

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One Good Thing Comes Out Of Ill-Conceived CA District NCLB Waiver: LAUSD Not Subject To Parent Trigger

The U.S. Department of Education has granted eight California school district and ill-conceived waiver from No Child Left Behind.

Fortunately, our Sacramento district — one of those eight — withdrew from the group earlier this year.

The whole thing is doomed to fail. However, at least one good thing has come out of it — the Los Angeles Times writes about how, because of the waiver, those districts are now immune from the equally ill-conceived parent trigger law.

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My Best Posts On “Conditional Cash Transfers”

Conditional Cash Transfers are payments made to families to encourage them to do things like go to doctor appointments, and to children for increased school attendance and higher standardized test scores, and have been in the news lately.

I’ve published a number of posts about them, and I thought readers might find it helpful if I brought them all together:

Politico Asks:”Can You Fight Poverty by Paying Kids to Go to School?” The Answer Is “No”

Will This Report Put “The Nail In The Coffin” Of Conditional Cash Transfers?

Conditional Cash Transfers, Parents, And Schools

New Study Shows That Paying Families To “Engage” In Schools Doesn’t Work

I’m adding this post to my collection of other “Best” lists on parent engagement.

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Useful Follow-Up Article On White House Family Engagement Conference

I’ve previously posted about the recent White House conference on family engagement (see “White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement” Was Held Today).

Carla Thompson from the Kellogg Foundation, who sponsored the conference, just published a piece at The Huffington Post about it.

Check out Family Engagement: The Top of Everyone’s Back-to-School Checklist.

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Politico Asks:”Can You Fight Poverty by Paying Kids to Go to School?” The Answer Is “No”

I’ve previously published several posts on this blog about the concept of Conditional Cash Transfers, which are basically programs that provide money to low-income families to “incentivize” certain behaviors.

As I shared in those previous posts, I’m all for getting more money into the hands of low-income people and, though I think there are more effective ways to combat poverty, who am I to criticize strategies that result in more cash for them? However, one thing the research has been pretty clear about is that these kinds of programs have no positive effect on actions related to education and, in fact, can have the opposite results.

Now, Politico has published a lengthy article about another experiment that is making the same mistake.

Check out their piece, Can You Fight Poverty by Paying Kids to Go to School?, as well as my previous posts on the topic.

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Ridiculous British Policy Of Punishing Parents For Student Vacations Continues — 64,000 Fines Issued

I’ve previously published a number of posts about the ridiculous British policy of punishing parents for taking their students on vacation during the school year.

Here are two new resources:

Number of parents fined for term-time holidays soars by 70 per cent is from The Telegraph.

School holiday fines in England ‘unfair’, say parents is from The BBC.

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“More Denver Public School teachers reaching out through home visits”

More Denver Public School teachers reaching out through home visits is the headline of a recent article in the Denver Post.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the past few years, kindergarten teacher Kori Leaman-Miller can’t think of any student who cried on their first day of school.

She hadn’t given it much thought, but officials who are growing home-visit programs in school districts say it may not be accidental.

Leaman-Miller is among more than 800 teachers in Denver Public Schools who visit students at home in an effort to reach out with resources, and to create a connection with children and their parents.

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“L.A. literacy program unites families, boosts kids’ reading skills”

L.A. literacy program unites families, boosts kids’ reading skills is the headline of an article in today’s Los Angeles Times.

Here’s an excerpt:

The program, which has operated for nearly 20 years, brings families together for reading lessons, adult education opportunities and parenting techniques. The program aims to provide parents with the skills and knowledge to be successful at school, work and home.

“There’s a saying that if a mother builds her literacy, it builds the literacy of the whole family,” said Sharon Polkinghorn, who has been the Shenandoah Street Elementary School coordinator for six years. She added that families welcome the chance to be together.

“In a big family or a small apartment, they may not have the chance to have that parent-child one-on-one time.”

Polkinghorn said one of the most satisfying outcomes is the relationships built among the families, which have different cultural and religious backgrounds, coming from such countries as Mexico and Egypt.

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Parent Group Organizes In Chicago

In These Times has just published an article headlined ‘Bad Ass Moms’ Defend Chicago Public Schools.

Here’s an excerpt:

Though there are a number of parent organizations fighting for educational justice in the city—including Parents 4 Teachers (P4T) and More Than a Score (MTS), whose membership overlaps with BAM’s—BAM concentrates on a breadth of issues rather than advocacy around any one particular topic, such as layoffs (P4T) or over-testing (MTS).

United behind the idea that all schools should be great schools, not just the ones their kids attend or the ones the Board of Education deems worthy of saving, BAM activists say they want to amplify the voices of working-class families whose schools are being defunded, over-tested and disproportionately closed by the city’s so-called education reformers.

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“More Schools Open Their Doors to the Whole Community”

More Schools Open Their Doors to the Whole Community is a Wall Street Journal article about…community schools.

Here’s an excerpt:

WYOMING, Mich.—On a recent weekday here, a steady stream of people dropped by one central location for food stamps, family counseling and job ideas—their local school.

While instruction has ended for the summer, these classrooms remain open as part of a wider trend around the country of “community schools,” where public and private groups bring services closer to students and residents year round and, in some cases, help boost student performance.

With backing at local, state and federal levels, the decades-old idea for improving schools and neighborhoods is gaining ground despite some funding uncertainties and doubts about community schools’ success.

The largest coordinator of such programs, Communities in Schools, saw a 6% increase in its reach in the 2012-13 school year, covering schools with a total of more than 1.3 million students in 26 states.

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

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“D.C. charter school educates parents alongside children”

D.C. charter school educates parents alongside children is a Washington Post article that appeared a few days ago.

Here’s an excerpt:

The District’s Briya Public Charter School enrolls parents and young children together in the same school, a novel effort to improve children’s prospects by building the skills of those who are closest to them. It’s an approach that an increasing number of researchers and philanthropists are promoting across the country as experts worry that investments in early childhood education or school improvement can only go so far.

“We spend a lot of money on poor children in our schools,” said Sharon Darling, president of the National Center for Families Learning. “But in reality, there are no poor children. They live with poor parents, and they are poor because they have poor skills. You can’t keep putting a Band-Aid on one part of the equation.”

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“Center gets students and parents on track for college”

The Sacramento Bee published this somewhat interesting article, titled Center gets students and parents on track for college.

Here’s how it begins:

Jeremie Elkins wants to be a lawyer. Katrina George plans to be a teacher, and Domonique Craig has set her sights on business studies. All are taking part in the College Bound Babies program at Twin Rivers Housing Complex, but they aren’t students.

The three parents help out at the kindergarten-preparation program every day as a requirement for their child’s attendance. They say their involvement has fostered a sense of community at the low-income public housing complex and has inspired them to continue their own education.

“A lot of families here are struggling,” Elkins said. “A lot don’t know where to go with life.”

The nonprofit Roberts Family Development Center launched the program last year with hopes of getting parents more involved with their children’s education – and getting them to take a good look at their own lives at the same time.


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