My Most Popular Blog Posts On Parent Engagement (Over The Past Year)

I began my Engaging Parents In School blog about a year ago to support the publication of my book, Building Parent Engagement In Schools. I’ve written many posts over the past twelve months, and I thought readers might find it useful to see a list of which ones have been “clicked-on” the most:

Here, in order, are My Most Popular Blog Pots On Parent Engagement (Over The Past Year):

1. Worst Idea To Promote Parent Involvement Ever: If You’re Poor, You Get Government Benefits Cut-Off Unless You Go To PTA Meetings

2. School Secretary Fired For Translating For Parents

3. My Best Posts On Parent Engagement So Far This Year

4. How NOT To Communicate With Parents

5. Boy, Did Ruben Navarrete Get Up On The Wrong Side Of The Bed This Morning!

6. A “Must-Read” For Anybody Interested In Parent Engagement In Schools

7. Can The Brookings Institution Really Be That Clueless?

8. “Harlem Program Singled Out as Model”

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

10. October Is “Parent Involvement Month”

11. Some Of These “Parent Academies” Just Don’t Get It….

12. ”The problem is that the teachers don’t have to listen to us”

13. Great Teacher Home Visit Video Clip

14. “You go to the school, you sign up to do a job, they tell you what to do”

15. Conditional Cash Transfers, Parents, And Schools

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“Would LeBron James Have Made The Same Decision If He Had Gone To College?” & Other In-Depth Questions Asked To Sec. Duncan…

The headline to this post was, I kid you not, asked by a member of the National Press Corps today to Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Happily, there were better questions asked than that one, though, overall, I was less-than impressed with their caliber.

Secretary Duncan did have some reasonable things to say — both about parent involvement, schools connecting to the community and about multiple measures for teacher evaluation. We can only hope that actions will follow.

You can watch his speech and the questions and answers here.

“Engaged Families, Effective Pre-K: State Policies that Bolster Student Success”

“Engaged Families, Effective Pre-K: State Policies that Bolster Student Success” is a new report from The Pew Center On The States.

Early Ed Watch, A blog from New America’s Early Education Initiative, has a very good summary of the report. It sounds like it has some good family engagement ideas for young children and their parents.

Good Ideas In Proposal From Civil Rights Groups

Several national civil rights groups released a proposal for educational policy today, along with launching a National Opportunity to Learn Campaign.

Its proposals included a lot of good recommendations related to schools connecting to parents and local communities, including:

In our view, the best approach to school turnaround is to reinvent low-performing schools as
community schools, offering high-quality programs, strong instruction, and wraparound
services. These community-centered schools operate best within Community Opportunity
Education Networks, which leverage local resources to produce sustainable high-quality
learning outcomes for students and parents alike.

We know that good communities create the foundation for great schools. Public schools,
as the only mandatory community institutions, can serve as brokers for success,
connecting students and parents with supports and resources. In transforming public
schools into the hubs of their communities, teachers and principals should play lead roles,
supported by mentors, counselors, and health providers.

You can read more about it in Ed Week’s article, Civil Rights Groups Call for New Federal Education Agenda.

I’m skeptical, though, if they will have much effect. So many groups confuse having “access” to power with actually “having” power and, from what I have seen, the well-intentioned groups sponsoring this effort may very well have fallen in this trap, too.

Community Schools In Oakland?

Oakland Schools Struggle, but Emeryville May Point a Way Up is the headline of a New York Times article today about an effort to connect schools with social service agencies. I’ve written about these kinds of projects — called Community Schools — previously.

They certainly help. My concern, though, about many of them is that they focus on looking at parents and families as “clients” and not as “partners,” and tend to avoid working with community groups that can provide grassroots political support. I wonder if community improvements can be sustained over the long-term with that kind of vision….

Great Discussion on Harlem Children’s Zone

I’ve written a lot about the Harlem Children’s Zone, including applause for its great work and some concerns, too.

The release this week of a Brookings Institute report on the HCZ has prompted some interesting discussion in the the educational blogosphere.


The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews’ Rare attack on Harlem Children’s Zone.

Alexander Russo’s response, Alexander Russo on Jay Mathews and Harlem Children’s Zone.

Jay Mathews’ reaction, Alexander Russo hits me hard on Harlem Children’s Zone.

Wow! What A Study On School Leadership…

Learning from Leadership: Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning is a very important study that was released today.

You can read a summary here — Large national study strongly links educational leadership to student achievement.

You can read the entire report here — all 333 pages of it!

Here’s an excerpt related to parents:

1. District leaders need to engage in dialogues with principals about what openness
to community and parental involvement means in practice, beyond merely
establishing policies and structures. Pertinent topics for such discussions would
include the value of partnering with parents and community members in schoolimprovement
efforts, parents as vital partners in the learning process, the
importance of shared leadership, and the critical role that the community plays in
every child’s life.

2. Principals need to engage teachers and other staff members in similar discussions,
focused especially on ways to involve parents in roles beyond the superficial tasks
often allocated to them (e.g., coordinating social events, fundraising through bake
sales). Many parents feel marginalized because they are given tasks that do not
reflect the crucial role they could otherwise play in support of their children’s

What Parent Engagement Posts Did Readers Find Most “Engaging” This Quarter?

A few months ago, I began to have PostRank index posts from this blog. Post Rank uses a variety of ways to measure level of “engagement” that readers have with specific blog posts. I have a constantly updated “widget” on my blog’s sidebar that lists these posts, but I thought a quarterly post would be helpful/interesting to subscribers who don’t regularly visit the blog itself.

I’ll also be posting a list of the “most popular” posts over the past year.

Here are their rankings for this past quarter:

Interview With Ed Secretary Duncan On Parent Involvement

“Engaging Immigrant Parents”

Our High School Will Be Making One Thousand Home Visits….This Summer

“School to Parents: Volunteer or Else!”

National Center on Parent, Family and Community Engagement

A Missed Opportunity By Secretary Duncan…

Dept. Of Ed Hosts Meeting To Discuss Family Engagement

Update On Proposed Michigan Law To Jail Parents Who Don’t Attend Parent Conferences

National PTA Convention Happening Now

Don’t Attend A Conference With Your Child’s Teacher? Then Get Fined Or Go To Jail!

“Schools Must Work For Parent Involvement”

“Should Parents Be Punished For Truancy?”

“A New Era of Family Engagement”

Secretary Duncan’s Speech To The NAACP

Secretary Duncan’s Speech To The NAACP

In his speech to the NAACP this week, Education Secretary Duncan announced “we will revise our ESEA reauthorization proposal to require parent and community input.”

You can read his entire speech here, and news reports about it at Ed Week and the Kansas City Star.

There were no specifics and, of course, “the devil is in the details.”

If you’d like to read what I have written for the Secretary to say if I was his speechwriter, you can read my previous post, A Missed Opportunity By Secretary Duncan…