California’s “Race To The Top” & Parents

A few days ago I wrote about how I believe the issue of parent involvement/parent engagement is being used as a pawn in an attempt to pass legislation to qualify for federal “Race To The Top” funds.

It’s continuing. You can read about it from the perspective of one charter school operator (Green Dot) who wrote an Op Ed piece for the LA Times.

I continue to believe that you don’t build long term and genuine parent engagement by just getting parents to sign a petition. And you don’t build it by just providing one tool (the legislation being discussed in California would just give 51% of parents the right to convert a school into a charter or another drastic change) — remember the old saying that if the only tool you have is a hammer then everything is going to look like a nail. And you certainly don’t build it by trying to rush some state legislation through in order to get a few more bucks from the feds.

I think you build genuine parent engagement by creating incentives for schools to make it a higher priority, as I mentioned in that previous post. You build it by helping teachers and administrators see that it’s in their self interest to help cultivate it — not by holding a gun to their head and making them fear it.

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3 thoughts on “California’s “Race To The Top” & Parents

  1. I agree with this perspective. Plus, parental control of schools is unregulated, & since most parents don’t work in schools, they may have misguided or unfounded opinions on improving a school. If this legislation passes it could really backfire.

  2. I’m wondering about school staff “training” of some sort, the kind that helps teachers to accept parent involvement (because in some districts, like the one I live in, parent involvement often means criticism of teachers or administrators … often involving widespread community controversy). So, parents who support whatever the schools do are accepted and those who have questions or concerns are shut out …

  3. Wendy,

    I certainly agree with you. This is not going to happen magically — if it was, it would have happened already :) Training for teachers, like the three hour sessions that the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project does, is essential.

    Larry

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