‘Education is about preparing young people to make the world better than it is’ is by Pedro Noguera. Here’s what he wrote about parent engagement:
Parents are our allies
But that means that educators need to see themselves as part of the community as well. The educators have to have a vision for how knowledge can be used to address some of those problems. And that means the educators need to know that community.
They need to see their parents as allies; not as their clients, or as a bother. I would say that that’s hard for a lot of the educators because they don’t know those communities, they don’t know how to communicate with those parents. They’re-they’re actually more afraid of the parents than they are of the kids, cause the parents are bigger. And many of the parents come to school with attitude with suspicion, with hostility, because their experiences in school were not good.
And so how do we build trusting relationships with parents? It has to be premised on the understanding that we want the same thing. That we all want to see the kids do well. Good principals– like Christina Fuentes [at Brooklyn’s PS 24] –have been showing us this for years: that your parents can be your best allies. The parents can be a resource for you, if you know how to build a partnership with them that’s premised on respect. That’s premised on a recognition that both parties have a role to play. The parents need to be able to reinforce at home what’s important in school.
But the school needs to treat those children with dignity, and respect, as if they were their own children. And when parents believe that, when the parents know that, you have an ally. When it works well, when you get in trouble in school, you go home, you know what happens? You get in more trouble. That’s the old way, but it’s the right way. In fact that’s the only way.
When school and home are at odds, the kids suffer. The kids suffer because the adults are fighting, there’s no reinforcement, there’s no “social closure,” as James Coleman calls it. Social closure is when we see kids, thriving and developing.