Will Somebody Tell Secretary Duncan’s Staff That There Are “Regular” Public Schools Engaging Parents, Too?

The National Coalition For Parent Involvement In Education, which does good work, recently put out a newsletter reporting on a recent meeting Deputy Assistant Secretary Massie Ritsch had with the group.

According to the newsletter, Mr. Ritsch highlighted five parent involvement efforts — three related to charter-school operator Green Dot; Mastery Charter Schools in Pennsylvania, and the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) in Chicago. There is a common denominator among all of these schools,

In all five, either the school operators are able to pick-and-choose their students and/or they can basically change the entire school faculty (not to mention being the recipients of large amounts of private dollars in addition to public financial support)

Come on! Instead of pushing this kind of blatantly political agenda, perhaps the Department of Education can highlight the many non-charter schools around the country making home visits and working with the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project. Or how about the many non-charter schools working with parents and broad-based community organizing groups like the Industrial Areas Foundation to improve neighborhood communities. Many of those examples are highlighted in our book, Building Parent Engagement In Schools.

Luther Burbank High School, where I teach, is doing home visits, has a parent academy that is a national model, and operates a family literacy project that was recognized by the International Reading Association as the best example in the world of using technology to teach reading.

I’m not saying some charter schools aren’t doing good work engaging parents. But it seems to me that since many schools in the U.S. are facing some additional challenges — over and above the ones faced by the institutions the Assistant Secretary cited — it might be a good idea to make a point of checking out, and talking about, their successes, too.

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