Boston Schools Begin Parent Program

The Boston Globe ran an article today on a parent involvement effort begun by the Boston schools.

It appears like a typical “Parent University” program that a lot of schools have begun to teach parents about how schools work. However, the article did mention one other focus:

“Parent University will also help parents write résumés and develop career goals.”

The article also mentioned a nearby similar project also provides information on health care.

So, perhaps they understand — at least a little bit — that they need to respond to parent self-interests and not just act out of the school’s self-interests.

AFL-CIO And Parents

The labor federation AFL-CIO’s blog just wrote a post titled Report: Helping Latina Students Succeed Helps Us All.

It highlights a recent research report on the Latina drop-out rate that includes this recommendation:

Schools should develop and implement—and federal, state and local governments should fund—parent involvement initiatives for the parents of Latino students, and ensure that Latino parents are made to feel welcome at school.

California School Superintendent On Parent Involvement

The local newspaper in Bakersfield, CA, ran an article yesterday on California State Superintendent Jack O’Connell’s list of the top ten things parents should do to help their children succeed in schools.

Perhaps instead of telling parents what they should do, he could start urging schools to start  actually asking parents for their own ideas.  Instead of having the narrow focus on on parent involvement, what might happen if he decided to emphasize a school culture of parent engagement?

See Parent Involvement or Parent Engagement.

“How Parents Can Best Help Middle-Schoolers”

The Wall Street Journal just reported on a study analyzing effective ways parents can help middle-schoolers.  The article says:

“The best way to promote achievement in middle school isn’t to help student with their homework, or even to volunteer for school fundraisers. Instead, middle-school students posted the best results in school when their parents stepped back a bit and moved into more of a “coaching role,” teaching them to value education, relate it to daily life and set high goals for themselves, says the study.”

The article also contains a link to the study.

It’s also worth looking at the comments on the article. There are over fifty of them.

ASCD Podcast

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) recently had a podcast on Partnering to Transform the Conditions of Learning: Families and Educators Together.

You can read more about it on their blog and on their announcement.

Here’s an excerpt from their description of the podcast:

While research and common sense tell us that families are a powerful influence on children’s attitudes about learning and their success in school, we also know that educators and families often struggle to find meaningful ways to partner up. In light of what we know and what we’re committed to, how can we strategically transform family involvement in schools?

Book Should Be Out On September 30th!

Our book, Building Parent Engagement In Schools, is set to be published on September 30th. You can pre-order it on Amazon now.  I’m negotiating with the publisher for some way that readers of my blogs can get a discount, but I’m not sure it’s going to be a much more than what you can save by ordering it at Amazon using the “Super-Saver” option (which eliminates any shipping cost). Either way, you might want to check-out the blurb on Amazon.

For more of a preview of the book’s contents, you can read this article: Parent Involvement or Parent Engagement?

“Whatever It Takes”

Whatever It Takes is the title of a recent book about the Harlem Children’s Zone (you can see my thoughts and questions about the Zone here).

I just learned that its author, Paul Tough, has a blog that supports the book and provides updates on the Zone (and its proposed national expansion).

One of the posts provided a link to an extensive “This American Life” radio report on the Zone.

Thanks to Tim Lauer for the tip.

“There’s No Place Like Home…Visits”

There’s No Place Like Home…Visits is the title of an article in the National Education Association’s “NEA Today” publication. It’s about about the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project, which is also the subject of a chapter in our upcoming book “Building Parent Engagement In Schools.”

I also recently wrote about home visits for Teacher Magazine (free registration is required to access the entire article).

“The Parent Gap”

Inside Higher Ed ran an article today titled “The Parent Gap.”

It’s a summary of a recent research study on the likelihood of low-income students  attending college. Here’s how it begins:

“Many studies have found that low-income high school students and those whose parents are not well educated are less likely to enroll in college. And disproportionate numbers of black and Latino youth fall into this group.

One solution to this problem is to increase the availability of aid — as the Obama administration and Congress appear to agree with their plans to increase the maximum Pell Grant significantly. But research presented here Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association suggested that without shifting the attitudes of parents of low-income students — well before it’s time to enroll for college — any increases may not have the full impact desired.”

Does Community Organizing Help Schools?

The National Coalition For Parent Involvement In Education recently posted a report on community organizing and schools.

Here’s their description:

Sara McAlister, a research associate at the Community Organizing and Engagement program at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University: “Does the political will generated by community organizing in low-income, urban communities ultimately enhance the capacity of schools to improve student learning?”

“Starting At Home”

Starting At Home is a recent blog post written by Claus von Zastrow at the Public School Insights blog. It’s a commentary on my recent article in Teacher Magazine about teachers making home visits.

I feel honored to be spoken about so positively in a blog I respect so much.  I’ve written a number of posts over the past year pointing readers to articles written by Claus.   Learning School Insights is published by The Learning First Alliance. The LFA is:

“… a permanent partnership of 17 leading education associations with more than 10 million members dedicated to improving student learning in America’s public schools. We share examples of success, encourage collaboration at every level, and work toward the continual and long-term improvement of public education based on solid research.”

Their members include the National Education Association, the United Federation of Teachers, National Association of State Boards of Education, and the National PTA.

The positive review was nice, but what was even more important (to me, at least) was that Claus “got” the key to successful home visits:

“Teachers are not coming to parents as missionaries converting the unenlightened. Instead, they are forging strong partnerships with parents, discovering shared aspirations, and putting their heads together to address big challenges.”

Thanks, Claus!

The Family Involvement Network Of Educators

FINE: The Family Involvement Network of Educators is a project of the Harvard Family Research Project and the Harvard Graduate School Of Education.

They publish a free online newsletter. Here’s their summary of the most recent issue:

“At this moment of political change, the FINE Newsletter focuses on family involvement and the policies that support it. We explore the changing definitions of family engagement in the 21st century and look at the growing role for family involvement in education policy.

Two articles unpack the possibilities for family involvement policy: One provides a historical account of the federal role in out-of-school learning, while the other offers practical policy recommendations to build strong family involvement systems. In addition, articles from federally funded Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRCs) shed light on how to build systems that improve family involvement policies and touch the lives of families, children, and educators in the field.

We also offer you a collection of accessible family involvement instruments for use in evaluating your own family involvement efforts, as well as a comprehensive listing of new resources, articles, news, opportunities, and events in the family involvement field.”

“Harlem Program Singled Out as Model”

Harlem Program Singled Out as Model: Obama Administration to Replicate Plan in Other Cities to Boost Poor Children is a lengthy Washington Post piece on the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ).

The HCZ obviously does very good work. I do have some questions, though, about how they relate to parents and to the broader community. From what I have learned (and that just comes from newspaper articles, reading the book Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America , and seeing some video interviews with Geoffrey Canada), I wonder if the HCZ might relate to parents more as clients rather than partners. I also don’t really know what kind of relationships they have with  other neighborhood institutions like religious congregations and community groups (I have those same two critiques about most schools).

If they don’t have that kind of grassroots base, I wonder how any kind of real neighborhood transformation will be able to take place.  It also puts the HCZ in a politically weakened situation where they are at the mercy of wealthy donors without a power base to push for additional resources.

However, I want to emphasize that these concerns might very well have no foundation in reality, and might just be due to my lack of knowledge.  I hope to explore these questions further over the next year, including possibly making a visit.

I’d be interested in hearing from readers who might have more information than me about these issues.