“Parent trigger not on the top of parent-involvement expert’s list of best practices”

Parent trigger not on the top of parent-involvement expert’s list of best practices is the headline of a column at the Tampa Bay newspaper in Florida (where an attempt is being made to pass a trigger law).

It quotes parent involvement researcher Joyce Epstein, who says:

“That would not be first on our list of what we know should be done to engage families to support their students’ success,” said Johns Hopkins University professor Joyce Epstein, director of the National Network of Partnership Schools.

Epstein said legislation directing who can make choices is mechanical, while the “more difficult task” of creating programs that help families work with schools. Her organization’s research has found eight “essential elements” for effective leadership and programs of school, family, and community partnerships. These include: leadership, teamwork, action plans, implementation of plans, funding, collegial support, evaluation, and networking.

“We help district assist their schools in organized, equitable and goal-oriented family involvement programs, things families and schools can work on together positively,” Epstein said. “For immediate solutions, these are stronger approaches that engage families in ways to help children do better.”

This Week’s “Parent Teacher Chat” On Twitter

Last month, Joe Mazza wrote a guest post about Parent Teacher Chat on Twitter. Joe has accepted my invitation to write a short post on this blog regularly to announce future topics for these chats:

Special guest Karren Dunkley joins #ptchat this Wednesday, 1/25 at 9PM EST. Ms. Dunkley, Deputy Chief of the School District of Philadelphia, will be discussing parent leadership opportunities, “Demand Parents” and a “Parent University” her organization has set up for families. 

Hailing from Jamaica, Ms. Dunkley is helping to increase and improve the participation of families and community in the academic success and personal development of their children. Dunkley finds that “working for children and their communities is where she can contribute most to human growth and development.” She has served on the faculty of St Johns University in the departments of government and politics and education, where she was nominated Professor of the Year. While teaching in New York schools, she earned national recognition when she received the New York State Assembly 2005 Teacher of the Year award. Dunkley attended St Catherine High and Wolmer’s Girls’ School before migrating to the US. She graduated at the top of her class from St John’s University in Queens, New York with degrees in political science, secondary education and international law and diplomacy. Dunkley is a 21st century entrepreneur and philanthropist, having founded Uhuru Incorporated, a not-for-profit organization. The organization is dedicated to the emotional and educational empowerment of children in the United States and internationally.

For more information on this week’s #PTchat and Karren’s full bio, please visit Joe Mazza’s eFACE Today blog

Parent “Academies”

The San Francisco Chronicle recently published an article about a series of “PTA School Smarts Parent Academies” that are being held at a local school and others around the state. The President of the California PTA also has written a column about this effort.

I’m sure it’s a good experience for the parents involved, but it again raises concerns in my mind about how these kinds of parent academies/universities are run and their purpose. As I’ve written in Some Of These “Parent Academies” Just Don’t Get It…., many of these programs come with a pre-packaged curriculum with little input from parents about what they would like to learn. In addition, the focus is usually totally on the school, with no effort to learn what’s going on in parent lives and to help them organize together to deal with some of those bigger issues.

Elisa Gonzalez, our school’s parent coordinator, has done a great job of engaging parents to create their own “parent university,” and I wish more schools would use that kind of model.

The Smart Academies sounds like an excellent example of parent “involvement,” and that’s good. I just wish there would be more of an emphasis on parent “engagement.”

New Report On Community Schools

Lightening the Load: A Look at Four Ways that Community Schools Can Support Effective Teaching is a new report from The Center For American Progress.

I’ve written a fair number of posts about community schools, which, simply speaking, are schools which provide a lot of community services to the broader community. I obviously think they are a good idea.

But, as I’ve mentioned before, they often — though not always — tend to be framed as the schools doing “to” the parents, instead of working “with” them. I think they might be surprised at the increased level of success if more community schools viewed parents as partners instead of social service clients.

Parent Trigger News

I still feel very confident in saying that the “parent trigger” is pretty much dead in terms of having any kind of real influence in the education policy debate, but it does seem to appear to have some dying breathes left. You can read about them here:

Adelanto school is targeted in second test of ‘Parent Trigger’ law appeared in The Los Angeles Times.

Florida parent groups question origins of “parent empowerment” bill is from The Tampa Bay Times.

Parents give a thumbs down to NY-CAN and the “Parent Trigger” is from NYC Public School Parents.

Very Accessible Review Of Parent Involvement Engagement Research

The Flamboyan Foundation has developed a very accessible review of the most current parent engagement/involvement research. It includes some surprising info, particularly around issues related to homework.

They’ve published it in two parts, and the great thing about it is that both are only two pages long!

The first is called Setting the Stage: The Parent Engagement Field.

The second is titled What Kinds Of Parent Engagement Are Most Effective?

I’m adding both to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

Thanks to Carrie Rose at the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project for the tip!

Update On “Parent Teacher Chat” On Twitter

Last month, Joe Mazza wrote a guest post about Parent Teacher Chat on Twitter. Joe has accepted my invitation to write a short post on this blog regularly to announce future topics for these chats:

As a school principal, I receive more bullying referrals from the school bus than anywhere else. Unfortunately, the school bus and bus stop are the two location where I cannot add adult supervision to prevent bullying from happening. However, by making bus drivers more a part of the school and bringing them in to meet with teachers and bus riders as “bus teams” several times per year, we can ensure that the same rules and expectations are instilled in students from the time they leave their house to the time they get back. 

Join #ptchat on Wednesday, 1/11 at 9PM EST when Jim Dillon, Olweus trainer, school principal and author of the Peaceful Bus Program shares the ways parents and teachers can provide a safe environment to and from school.  More information on Joe Mazza’s eFACE Today blog.
In case you missed Dr. Michele Borba’s 1/4/12 #ptchat on What Parents and Teachers Can Do To End Bullying on the 1/4 #ptchat, all recent chats have been archived here
Thanks, Joe!