Weeks after announcing the largest school closure plan in United States history — one developed with little or no parent input — the CEO of Chicago Public Schools announced a new parent engagement plan.
Her plan — to start parent “universities”:
Byrd-Bennett’s action plan promises to launch “Parent Universities” across the city to “help parents understand expectations at each grade level, how to build children’s academic and social-emotional skills and how to support their college and career plans.”
At these universities, parents “can learn math and literacy, become more proficient in English, earn GED and college credits, learn skills to get a job, and take classes on parenting.
It sounds like her plan carries many of the usual problems with these kinds of parent “training” programs. They tend to fall on the parent “involvement” side of things instead of the “engagement” side. Parents usually don’t participate in determining their content, and they don’t tend to cover any of the other important issues affecting families — it’s just the schools’ agenda. Though, to be fair, it sounds like she’s trying to do a little of that if you look at the second quoted paragraph.
However, at this point, I can think of few people in schools that have less credibility right now when talking about parent engagement than Byrd-Bennett.