This Week’s #PTchat On Twitter

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Parents are the driving force behind their child’s education.  The partnership between the home and school is important in the social and educational development of the child.  As a teacher, I am usually asked the question “How can I help my child?” “How can I assist with the educational process at home so my child can be more successful in school?”  Many times I have these discussions when a child is already in danger of failing.  Although parents have their child’s best interest at heart, they sometimes have difficulty understanding the resources their child needs at home.  Members of the school have the responsibility to provide families with tools and resources so that parents may successfully assist in their child’s education at home.  
Join us this Wednesday, October 3rd at 9pm EDT/6pm PST on #PTChat as we share experiences and tools families need in order to Create an Educational Climate in the Home.  

Even More Articles On “Won’t Back Down” Film

Here are even more good additions to The Best Posts & Articles On Parent Trigger Movie “Won’t Back Down”:

A Political Football in the Classroom: ‘Won’t Back Down,’ With Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis
is by The New York Times.

Director of “Won’t Back Down” Tries to Explain, but Questions Remain
is by Anthony Cody at Education Week.

Hollywood propaganda is from The Washington Post.

Useful Advice For Parents Of Children Moving Into Secondary School

Parenting the secondary student: We’re not in elementary school anymore, by teacher Cindi Rigsbee, offers some useful advice to parents of children moving into secondary school.

Here’s how it begins:

As an educator who hangs out in a middle school hallway on a daily basis, and as a parent who hasn’t forgotten my children’s middle school and high school years, I believe there are some strategies that may soothe your anxiety somewhat. Here’s how to make the transition easier … for you and for your child.

More Articles On “Won’t Back Down”

Here are new additions to The Best Posts & Articles On Parent Trigger Movie “Won’t Back Down”:

‘Won’t Back Down’: Film critics pan parent-trigger movie — update is from Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post.

Reaction to “Won’t Back Down” Shows Critics Have Learned Something is by Anthony Cody at Education Week Teacher.

‘Won’t Back Down’ gets a D+ for a public school polemic is from The Chicago Tribune.

Bad Lessons From ‘Won’t Back Down’ is by Dana Goldstein.

Ed Week Post On “Parent Organizing” By Reform Groups Demonstrates Fatal Flaw In Strategy

[education reform advocacy organization] leaders are increasingly realizing that the successful enactment, implementation, and protection of the education policy reforms on their agenda—and public perception of the agenda’s legitimacy—necessitates the development of a new, more active approach to parental engagement. This new approach will need to build a permanent, coordinated network of organizations engaged in the type of grassroots parent organizing that can create a lasting social movement behind reform.

The above quote comes from a guest Education Week commentary titled Not Your Parents PTA, and demonstrates why their efforts are doomed to fail.

Speaking as someone who spent nineteen years as a community organizer before becoming a teacher ten years ago, I can tell you that organizations that have long-term success don’t begin with an agenda other than one promoting leadership development and wanting to get people who have not been involved in public life previously engaged in it now. Other than the basic tenets of wanting to be inclusive and recognizing the importance of compromise, organizations that develop long-term power have those goals of wanting to develop leaders, building “relational” power, and being diverse. They don’t start with a school reform agenda that they want new people to support — or, for that matter, a housing agenda, a jobs agenda, or any one particular issue agenda.

I am happy that these school reform groups haven’t yet figured this out, and hope they never will….

“Engaging Every Secondary School Family”

Engaging Every Secondary School Family is a useful post by Steve Constantino. Here’s an excerpt:

At the secondary school level, the plan to engage families should emanate from the families themselves. Understanding their perspectives and needs and then crafting a plan based on that information helps to make engagement efforts more meaningful and relevant to individual parents. It is important to respect families as equal partners in the education of their children and to recognize the potential in their contributions to the process of learning. Most importantly, welcoming them to the school goes a long way to creating a culture where every family feels accepted and is engaged.

Will PTA Step-In To Stop “Murder-Suicide Pact” That Could Devastate California Schools?

I’ve written extensively about the potentially devastating impact actions being taken by billionaire Molly Munger, supported by the California PTA, could have on our schools. Munger and the PTA refused to step away from their ballot measure to raise funds for schools and support one pushed by Governor Brown. I think the PTA’s move is a big mistake in many ways but I ultimately came to the conclusion that supporters of public education in California should vote “yes” on them both.

I invited the California P.T.A. to respond to several questions recently on this blog, and its President, Carol Kocivar, graciously accepted the opportunity. In one of her answers, she stated that they would not publicly attack the Governor’s initiative.

Today, The Sacramento Bee wrote about new ads being financed by Munger doing just that. Bee columnist Dan Walters described the outcome as a “murder-suicide pact” that could kill both initiatives.

Will the California PTA step-in to stop Munger?

“Mentoring becomes as much about parents as it is about kids”

Mentoring becomes as much about parents as it is about kids is an article on NBC’s website about a very impressive “mentoring program” sponsored by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association in Chicago.

Here’s a very short excerpt from the lengthy article:

The year-long program places parents into a classroom in their child’s school for two hours every day. They work with individual students or small groups, helping teachers give more one-on-one attention to children. They also earn a stipend of $500-$600 per semester for their time.

“Parent Trigger Laws: Why It’s Better to Embrace Collaboration”

Parent Trigger Laws: Why It’s Better to Embrace Collaboration is a post over at Edutopia written by Anne O’Brien. Here’s how it ends:

Passionate and active parents are a critical component of a successful education system. And while parent trigger laws can provide an avenue for parents to engage, their energy might be better directed at collaborating with educators to meet the needs of their children. They are a number of ways that such collaboration can occur — and as educators, we need to prioritize and embrace it.

What Engaged Means – Do Engaged Families Need Support?

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

This week’s Parent-Teacher Chat on Twitter
Wed., 9/26/12 – 9PM EDT / 6PM PST
#ptchat – Tweetchat Link 

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You can find quizzes like the one above all over the Internet. The questions refer to the balancing act of “Tiger Mom” vs. “Dolphin Mom.” While these words are extreme, they do offer a range of perspectives in play in the homes of today’s students.
What effects do each have on children? Can we push a child too far? Ask them to study or practice too much? Where does the responsibility lie in communicating what is best for the student with parents?
Labels like “dolphin,” “helicopter,” & “tiger” used to describe parents can demean the work of well-intentioned parents. The fears of school staff with regard to the uber-engaged parent and how it acts as a barrier to engagement of others is a driving force in staff feelings and opinions about family engagement.
During most #PTchats, we devote time to understanding and improving disengagement. However, it’s equally important to harness the power of the over-engaged. This week, we’ll discuss the strategies to work with those who over-control their children or those who, because of any number of perceptions, make unreasonable or unrealistic demands of their child and or their child’s education. The topic is worthy of discussion and will help us understand and respond to the diverse perspectives we see from day to day, and how to better funnel our family engagement efforts.  

Join us this Wednesday, September 26th at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST for #PTchat. Past chats & resources have been archived here. 

“Parents As Partners” New Season Of Webcasts Is Starting

Parents As Partners has regularly organized webcasts on parent engagement issues for years, and it’s starting its new season on Monday Sept 24, 2012.

You can read all the details here.

Here’s how they are describing it:

Our first show will star you! We are starting off with a brainstorming session and you are invited to join us. You can take the mic if you want ( please have a USB headset ready) or simply share your thoughts in the chat.

New York City’s Problems With Parent Engagement Continue

I’ve documented the many problems New York City schools have had with parent engagement.

They apparently are continuing…

Read about it today’s article in The Wall Street Journal, Parents Seen Less Involved In Schools: Report Shows Decline in Calls, Meetings.

Here’s how it begins:

New city statistics are showing a steep decline in parent involvement in New York public schools, giving potential ammunition to critics who say the Department of Education under Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been unresponsive to families.

Sept. Newsletter From The Family Involvement Network of Educators

The Family Involvement Network of Educators from Harvard has just published their September issue.

It contains several articles, including this one:

Creating Conditions for Effective and Ongoing Family Engagement

In this Commentary, Harvard Family Research Project’s Senior Research Analyst, Heidi Rosenberg, looks at the ways in which schools, programs, and other community institutions can help facilitate continuous family engagement to help children succeed. Approaches include relationship-building strategies, kindergarten transition programs, and college readiness activities that reflect the developmental needs of adolescents.

Not My Criteria For “Parent Power” — What’s Yours?

A “school reform” group called the Center For Education Reform has come up with a misnamed “Parent Power Index” to rate states on how much they support “Parent Power.”

Their criteria seems to include school choice, evaluating teachers by student test scores, and support for online learning, among other things.

My criteria might include parent involvement in school activities and number of home visits done by teachers and school staff.

What else do you think should be included?

The PTA Responds To Questions On Their Support Of CA Proposition 38

I’ve been a critic of the California PTA’s involvement with billionaire Molly Munger in sponsoring Proposition 38 on the California ballot instead of throwing their full support to Governor Brown’s Prop 30.

I still think it was and is a mistake, but it’s also clear to me that the wisest move now is for supporters of education in California to vote “yes” for both initiatives.

I have also invited the California PTA to respond to the criticisms that I and others have made about their involvement, and Carol Kocivar, CA PTA President, has been gracious enough to respond:

Can you explain the process the California PTA used to make its decision to emphasize its support of Proposition 38 — how involved were PTA members in drafting it, and were members involved in deciding not to abandon it in favor of the Governor’s initiative, as proponents of another initiative did?

Beginning in fall 2011, California State PTA researched a range of potential solutions to address the chronic underfunding of our public schools. Our leaders spoke with leaders from nearly every statewide education group, as well as with state elected leaders and school finance experts. We became aware of the exemplary work being done by the nonprofit Advancement Project.

This work aligned extremely closely with the 2011-13 Advocacy Goals set by our 120-member California State PTA Board of Managers, including: “Adequate funding for education to ensure every child has the opportunity to meet his or her full potential” and “Access to a full curriculum for every student that includes physical education, arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).  These goals were established in part based on input from our annual survey of members, which showed adequate school funding as the highest priority.

California State PTA helped contribute to the final language of many aspects of Proposition 38, including sections related to what specific programs the new funding can be spent on; the process for engaging local parents, educators, communities and school boards in budget decision-making; and sections that provide $12 billion in general fund relief during the first four years to prevent deeper cuts to other programs.

In July 2012, our state Legislative Committee invited a presentation from the Proposition 30 campaign and, per our process, our state Board of Managers voted to take a position of “neutral” on that measure.

Given that Prop 38 has been losing in all public polls this year, and that a proposition in that position has never won, what is the PTA’s rationale for continuing to support it instead of changing its focus to Prop 30?

The one poll that truly matters is on Nov. 6.  We are confident, based on internal polling we have seen, that as more people learn about Proposition 38, support increases to achieve victory.

After $20 billion in education cuts, we strongly believe we need to start to restore funding for our schools and this is precisely what Prop. 38 does.

Much early polling related to Proposition 38 tested title or summary language that was different from the actual label that has been approved for the ballot.  In addition, most early polling focused almost exclusively on the taxing mechanism contained in the initiative, as opposed to how much funding it generated and what the funding can be used for. Many polls have shown that voters are willing to pay more in taxes when they are assured the money will go to help their local schools, which is exactly what Proposition 38 does.

Did the PTA support Ms. Munger’s decision to challenge in court the state’s decision to put Prop 30 on the ballot in the first position?  If so, why?

PTA did not take a position on the legal action.

What is the PTA doing to support Prop 38?

California State PTA is first and foremost sharing information with our members about the benefits of Proposition 38. We are also helping to talk with other state and local organizations in order to expand our growing coalition, which includes many education and children’s groups, school districts, and business and civil rights groups. Some of our leaders and members are also participating in local public forums and media shows to discuss the initiative.  We encourage everyone to learn more about Prop 38 and how it works.

Has Ms. Munger given money directly to the California PTA?  If so, how much and for what purpose?

We have received absolutely no money from Molly Munger. We commend her as a tremendous advocate for all children and we share her commitment to passing an initiative in November that will help transform our public schools and provide every student with the programs and services they need and deserve.

Does the PTA plan to publicly attack Prop. 30 during the campaign?

No. While we support a different measure this November, we understand that proponents of both Prop 30 and 38 have the best interests of California at heart. Similarly, we think voters understand that in a state as large as California, there is room for more than one idea about how best to fund our schools and help revive our economy.

California State PTA will continue to advocate on behalf of all children in a manner that is mutually respectful and aimed at educating voters in a constructive, fact-based manner about the vital policy issues and solutions presented by the initiatives. We ask all who are involved in these campaigns to make the same commitment.

Because of the significance of the decision voters face, they deserve straightforward and clear information about each of the initiatives without the distraction of negative campaigning.  It is worth noting that while California State PTA strongly supports Proposition 38 because we feel it is the best course for children and our state, our association has not taken a position in opposition to Proposition 30.

In contrast, some supporters of Proposition 30 are formally and actively engaged in opposing Proposition 38, including having formed a political committee, submitting ballot arguments against Proposition 38, and testifying publicly against Proposition 38.  To foster a more positive environment, we urge supporters on both sides to agree not to formally and actively oppose each other’s initiatives.

Is there anything you’d like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

We all agree our state needs to invest more in our public schools. The traumatic economic events of the past five years have resulted in unacceptable cuts to public education in the amount of $20 billion. We cannot wait any longer to reverse this.

Prop 38 offers a positive vision, one focused on what we can and must provide for every child. When Prop 38 passes, every school in the state is guaranteed additional dollars to restore programs and services that have been cut. Additional funding flows to serve low-income students.

Importantly, Prop 38 also makes a serious commitment to restoring early education programs and access to preschool — proven strategies to address the opportunity gap. Prop 38 provides substantially more funding – an average of $10 billion per year over the next 12 years for schools. It also provides substantial relief for the General Fund — $12 billion in the first four years, and millions more in future years, by paying down state bond debt.

Lastly, Proposition 38 establishes important reporting and transparency requirements that will ensure more meaningful input at the local level by parents and communities, and real accountability.  That’s why the California State PTA is supporting Prop 38.

Thanks, Carol!

This Week’s #PTChat On Twitter

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

#YouMatter – These two words hold so much power and potential in supporting kids in today’s world. School students come to us with unlimited potential and oftentimes all it takes is for them to feel a little extra support, confidence and love from their parents and educators to help them rise to the occasion. 

This week, we’ve invited @AngelaMaiers to our weekly Parent-Teacher Chat to help provide us the very best strategies in raising self esteem for students everywhere.  Angela’s life path has always been about teaching and communication. Her twenty years as an educator and her passionate pursuit of literacy and learning, gave her a healthy dose of courage and skills that have led to a variety of wonderful experiences, including classroom and University teaching, instructional coaching, research, writing, publishing, corporate training, and starting my own business. More on Angela Maiers can be found on her website here and in her TEDxDesMoines talk below.

Also invited to this discussion is 2012 Blue Ribbon School Principal Tony Sinanis, whose school (Cantiague Elementary), employs multiple “bucket-filling” opportunities for its learning community. We’ll hear from Tony and others on applying these strategies at home and at school.
Please join us on Wednesday night, 9/19 at 9EDT/6PST. Together we’ll create a gDOC school newsletter resource for educators & parents on student self-esteem.