Parent Revolution Throws A Fit

I’ve written many posts about the destructive impact the organization Parent Revolution can have on schools, teachers, students and their families.

Their march of destruction continues as they are now threatening to sue the Los Angeles school district if they don’t allow the use of the “parent trigger” (see One Good Thing Comes Out Of Ill-Conceived CA District NCLB Waiver: LAUSD Not Subject To Parent Trigger).

To their credit, Parent Revolution has tempered their methods slightly from what they were doing originally. The main reason, though, why their work hasn’t been so damaging lately is because more and more people are seeing through their rhetoric, and few families want to have anything to do with them anymore.

If they really wanted to help families, though, their best move would be dissolution.

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Newark District Continues To Be Model For How NOT To Treat Parents

I’ve written so much about the ongoing disaster in Newark for parents and their children.

Here’s the latest — a post from Bob Braun titled Cami’s Newark enrollment plan collapses in the heat, with these being the first two paragraphs:

The implementation of the deeply flawed “One Newark” student-dispersal program all but collapsed Thursday as the state administration’s highly paid bureaucrats kept hundreds of angry and frustrated parents and children waiting in un-airconditioned school rooms or outside in 90+ heat to register their children for the few remaining public school seats. Just hours into the chaos, Newark school officials locked the doors to Newark Vocational and told the men, women, and children waiting outside to come back at 5 a.m. the next morning.

The people in line outside shouted angrily at the bureaucrats and demanded a “number”–as shoppers do at meat markets–and the chance to get inside so they could plan for their children’s education. Many said they could not return the next day because they had taken the day off from working and couldn’t take another day.

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“I Want Parents To Know This…”

It’s that time of year when you start seeing posts and articles about what teachers want parents to know.

I Want Parents to Know This… is a particularly good one by Matt Gomez (thanks to Sheila Stewart for the tip.

You might also be interested in these other ones in the “genre”:

My Advice To Parents In “USA Weekend” is something I wrote last summer.

5 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew: Your Children Can Do More Than You Think is a good piece by Jessice Lahey in The New York Times.

10 things teachers wish parents knew before the school year begins is from The Today Show.

If you want to see a terrible example of this kind of list, check out one of my previous posts, Jeez, What Was Ron Clark Thinking?

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“Oklahoma PTA Unanimously Calls for End to High-Stakes Testing”

Oklahoma PTA Unanimously Calls for End to High-Stakes Testing is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Over 340 delegates at the Oklahoma PTA’s annual convention voted unanimously to adopt resolutions that call for a ban on policies that force the state’s public schools to rely on high-stakes testing and put an end to mass administration of field tests.

Wow! Wouldn’t it be nice if other state PTA’s viewed this as a model?

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“Federal Data-Privacy Guidelines Urge Better Communication With Parents”

Federal Data-Privacy Guidelines Urge Better Communication With Parents is a new post over at Education Week.

Here’s how it begins:

The tug-of-war over student data privacy continues.

Friday, the U.S. Department of Education released new, non-binding guidance containing suggestions for schools and districts to better inform parents about how their children’s sensitive educational data is being used.

Some privacy advocates, however, were less than enthusiastic.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts On The inBloom Data Fiasco.

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“Clinton launches Talk, Read, Sing campaign”

Ed Source reports on a recent visit by Hillary Clinton to Oakland:

Hillary Clinton spoke to a friendly crowd at Oakland’s UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital on Wednesday about her new campaign (no, not that one) to get parents to spend more time talking, singing and reading to their young children.

“Brain research is showing us how important the first years of life are,” Clinton said, “and how much a simple activity can help build brains.”

Oakland will be the second city – the first was Tulsa, Oklahoma – to receive a concentrated dose of messaging about the importance of verbally engaging infants and toddlers. As part of the “Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing” campaign, residents can expect a multimedia campaign featuring television commercials, a radio spot, billboards and bus station ads. Local retailer Oaklandish will also be launching a new clothing line for babies that includes onesies that read, “Let’s talk about hands and feet,” and baby blankets proclaiming, “Let’s talk about bedtime.” For every item purchased, Oaklandish will donate one item to a family in need.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap.”

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“Want More Kids to Graduate? Report Suggests Starting with Mom and Dad”

Want More Kids to Graduate? Report Suggests Starting with Mom and Dad is the headline of a post over at Education Week.

Here are a some excerpts:

A new report released today by the Foundation for Child Development and CLASP, a Washington think tank, finds that although parents’ education has a huge effect on their children’s future health and educational attainment, there are very few programs focused on improving education for the entire family….

The report called for policymakers and education officials to look for ways to develop more-holistic “dual generation” anti-poverty programs to educate parents and children at the same time.

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“Engaging Immigrant Parents with Improved Systems of Interpretation & Translation”

Engaging Immigrant Parents with Improved Systems of Interpretation & Translation is a useful short explanation of how and why one school district makes it a priority to offer several different types of translation services available.

The article includes research references and links for more details on how the system operates.

Thanks to Edublogs for the tip!

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“Learning Walks…More Than a Tour of the School”

Learning Walks…More Than a Tour of the School is the title of a post at Edutopia by Gwen Pescatore, where she offers an idea for parent involvement called “Learning Walks.”

Here’s an excerpt:

What is a Learning Walk?

It is an invitation to parents to come to the school for a set period of time (an hour or two), to go on a guided tour of the school/classrooms during the school day. Not to look at the decor – but to learn more about the learning happening or explore other topics revolving around education and the school. Each tour/learning walk, would have a topic or theme to guide the discussion and help with selection of which classrooms to visit. The thought is more about giving parents an opportunity to witness what a “real” lesson looks like and not a “dog and pony show” lesson. These are also not about a parent sitting in on and observing THEIR child…but to learn more about a topic or the school through observing in them in action. Following the Learning Walk, the group would sit down to talk more in depth about what they’ve observed and answer questions.

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“California PTA urges sane homework loads”

California PTA urges sane homework loads is the headline of a Washington Post piece.

Here’s an excerpt:

The effort began at Burbank’s John Burroughs High School, where PTA members took action after seeing our film, Race to Nowhere. Suzanne Weerts and Tina McDermott, both mothers at the high school, delved into the education research and drafted a resolution titled “Homework: Quality over Quantity,” urging schools to get the homework madness under control. This month, the California PTA adopted their resolution statewide. State representatives aim to take it to the National PTA next year.

“We know from the research that too much homework can have a negative impact on learning,” said Tina McDermott, who also teaches at a community college. “We also know that family stress can skyrocket from the relentless pressure every day to get it done. It can impact the entire family.”

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“Parents Form Partnership With LAUSD, Avoid Using Parent-Trigger Law”

Parents Form Partnership With LAUSD, Avoid Using Parent-Trigger Law is an interest post over at Education Week sharing an agreement that the District made with parents for increased services and resources.

The suggestion is that the deal wouldn’t have been made if the District didn’t have a threat of parents using the parent trigger hanging over their head.

Are any readers familiar with what happened? Does that analysis hold water?

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Teachers, “Social Justice Unionism” & Parents

A New Teacher Union Movement is Rising is an article by Bob Peterson, head of the Milwaukee Teachers Union.

Here’s how he concludes the piece:

It is no longer sufficient to just critique and criticize those who are attempting to destroy public education. Teacher unions must unite with parents, students and the community to improve our schools—to demand social justice and democracy so that we have strong public schools, healthy communities, and a vibrant democracy.

I’m adding it to The Best Reasons Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame.

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“District of Columbia Expands Family-Engagement Program”

District of Columbia Expands Family-Engagement Program is the title of an Education Week post.

Here’s an excerpt:

Twenty-one schools will participate in the parent partnership program during the 2014-15 school year. Each participating school receives a grant for up to $25,000, Melissa Salmanowitz, spokeswoman for the District’s school system, wrote in an email.

According to the release, the Family Engagement Partnership instructs school administrators and teachers how to develop trusting relationships with parents. Teachers conduct home visits and work with families to set higher academic expectations for their children. The program also includes a new approach to parent-teacher conferences. These Academic Parent Teacher Teams help families create supportive learning environments for students in their homes.

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Guest Post: Report From The National Family Engagement Conference

I’ve previously published short reports on last month’s National Family Engagement Conference. Today, Carrie Rose, Executive Director of the Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project, has written this guest post about it:

Parent-Teacher Home Visits Fit DOE’s Vision

Researcher Karen L. Mapp lifts up PTHVP in Family Engagement Framework

CINCINNATI- Back in the day, did your grandma help with costumes for the school play, or did your dad change a shift at work so he could attend your parent-teacher conference? These days, parent involvement is more important to schools than ever. New research shows that if schools are really going to meet the needs of 21st Century students, they’ve got to form more meaningful relationships with families. But there’s been controversy over which activities make a difference. Will Johnny read at grade level if his dad brings cookies for the bake sale?

In order to provide answers, Dr. Karen L. Mapp of the Harvard Graduate School of Education stood on the stage two weeks ago at the first National Family and Community Engagement Conference, hosted in Cincinnati by the Institute for Educational Leadership. In front of her were a few hundred of the nation’s family engagement professionals, charged with involving parents, grandparents and other guardians in their child’s life at school. Dr. Mapp announced that just that morning the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, had released the graphic illustration “The Dual Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships.” With the official release, Dr. Mapp was able to take the audience through an outline of the framework, explaining the kind of relationships schools can build that make a lasting impact.

The Framework’s companion report,“Partners in Education: The Dual Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships,” also by Mapp and Kuttner, was released the next day by Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL).  The much-anticipated report has emerged at a time when the experts in family engagement are engaged themselves in debate. Books such as “Broken Compass: Parental Involvement with Children’s Education” by Keith Robinson and Angel L. Harris have inspired the media to issue provocative headlines, such as “Parental Involvement Is Overrated” in a recent New York Times (April 13, 2014). And the definition of parental involvement varies widely. In some programs, it has a social service bent, where adults are enticed to learn parenting skills with a free dinner, or giveaways of diapers or toys. Another family engagement approach is academic. If parents can be taught classroom subjects like long division, they can help their children be more successful.

The most effective programs, according to Dr. Mapp and the “Dual Capacity Building Framework,” have three main components: they 1) increase the capacity (skills, knowledge, and relationships) of the adults involved via a two-way street – families and staff learn from each other how best to meet the needs of the child;  2) build respect and trust using a relational approach, and 3) have activities tied to learning.

Looking for examples of programs that built trust and increased capacity in families and schools at the same time, Dr. Mapp lifted up home visits as a best practice in family engagement. The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project (PTHVP) method of home visits is described in the first of three case studies in the DOE report, which chronicles the turnaround of Stanton Elementary School in Southeast Washington DC.

In 2010, the school was in crisis, and a new principal came in with a new staff and myriad of reforms. But things got worse. Then in the summer of 2011, a partnership between local Flamboyan Foundation and DC Public Schools brought PTHVP in to train the staff to do home visits. And this, say Stanton teachers and parents, is what made the difference.

Trained teachers and other school staff visited their students’ families with the purpose of building relationships and trust. Participation, on the part of the teachers and the parents, was voluntary, and students were not targeted but picked randomly with the goal of visiting as many as possible. School staff entered the families’ homes and neighborhoods ready for the two-way learning and sharing process described by Dr. Mapp’s Framework as “Dual Capacity Building.”

“The visits are not designed to be assessments of families; rather, they are relational in nature and are specifically designed to be respectful of families’ assets and strengths and to build the capacity of both the educator and the family to support the academic and social success of every student.”

Parent Katrina Grant is quoted in the report as saying she was not initially open to school personnel coming to see her at home, but her feelings changed after the first visit.

“What made me more engaged was the home visit. When they first called about the home visit, first, I was skeptical. I thought it was a CPS (Child Protection Services) visit. For the teachers to take the initiative, to come to my area where I live and have no problem with it, to sit in my living room, and ask about me and my child, that really meant something to me. It meant that this person is going to be my partner, and we were going to work together, and she cares for my child. The whole time we discussed my child. For me, that was the first engagement that signaled a change for me.”

Both teachers and parents felt the higher levels of trust and respect at the school “immediately,” which is typical of the improved school culture that comes out of home visits. Independent evaluations have found improved attendance, decreased behavior issues, and improved student performance in schools that use the PTHVP model.

The PTHVP model fits other aspects of the DOE Framework, including recommendations for making the program systemic, embedded in curriculum, and sustainable.

Dr. Mapp, from Harvard, standing on the stage, spent a year working as a consultant to the Department of Education refining her research on what makes family engagement effective. The professionals, in the audience, came to the conference to be better at engaging families.  Each engagement program, with their very diverse goals and strategies, has some self-reflection in store. How close do their programs come to the DOE’s recommended framework? Do they build capacity in both families and schools? Do they mutually build trust and respect? And are they linked to learning? How will our answers to the above questions change our ideas of what is effective family engagement? Will it change what we fund and what we do? With time and funds in short supply, schools and districts, as well as parents and communities, must address these questions in light of the research.

 

For more information

Partners in Education: The Dual Capacity Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships at the Department of Education, www.ed.gov

The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project www.pthvp.org

Carrie Rose, Executive Director, Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, [email protected], (916) 448-5290

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