March 3rd Webinar On “Parent Universities”

The Harvard Family Research Project is sponsoring a free Webinar on March 3rd, 1:00 PM (EST) on parent universities.

Here’s how they describe it:

Parent universities are committed to building parent capacity to support their child’s school success. To do so effectively, parent universities must continually respond and adapt to the changing and expressed needs of families. Join us on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (EST), to learn about some new resources and ideas that can help spark innovative thinking and planning for those involved in parent universities.

You might also be interested in My Best Posts On Parent “Academies” & “Universities,” where I share my concerns about how these kinds of parent universities are typically run in schools, and also share my praise for schools (including ours) which do them, in my opinion, the right way.

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Cross-Post: “Here Are Text Messages We’re Sending Home To ELL Students & Parents – Share Your Ideas”

I also published this post at my Websites of the Day blog.

I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Parent Engagement Advice For Teachers.

Alma Avalos, the extraordinary bilingual aide who works with me, and I are going to start intensively using Remind to send weekly text messages to our students and their parents (of course, only if parents agree).

This idea builds on the studies I’ve previously posted about that have shown these kinds of messages to parents have resulted in positive learning outcomes for their children.

I’m compiling a list of the kinds of texts, which will be sent in Spanish (thanks to Alma — my Spanish is not up to the task), that would be most beneficial to English Language Learners.

Here’s a list of what I’ve come up with so far (and I’ve only spent a few minute on it), and I’m hopeful that readers will contribute a lot more. I’ll then compile it into a master list and share:

For Students:

Please remember to use Duolingo at least one-half hour each night.

Do you have a book in English to read? If so, please read it. If not, please get one from class.

Please share with your parents what you learned in school today

For Parents:

Please remember to ask your child to tell them the English words they learned today.

Please remind your child to use the website called Duolingo for at least one-half hour each night.

Please encourage your child to read books in English.

Please encourage your child to watch movies in English with subtitles in English to help them learn.

You might want to ask your child to label different things around the house with the English word for those objects.

Consider asking your students to read to you in English.

We have school staff that speak several languages. Don’t hesitate to call the school if you have questions or concerns.

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Webinar On Parent Engagement This Wednesday

Joe Mazza, a very well-respected national leader on parent engagement, is leading a free Webinar on Engaging Families Using High & Low Tech Strategies this Wednesday.

You couldn’t find a person with greater knowledge about the topic and energy to impart it!

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“A Guide to Student-Led Conferences”

Edudemic has published a useful piece titled A Guide to Student-Led Conferences.

Here’s how it begins:

Parent-teacher conferences provide parents with updates on their child’s progress and opportunities to see their student’s work. They also open communication between school and home. However, students often are passive, or even absent, during traditional parent-teacher conferences. One way to fix this is to put students at the helm, as they are the ones who are responsible for their work and progress.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Parent/Teacher Conferences.

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“Be A Learning Hero” Has Tons Of Parent Resources, Including Common Core Support

Be A Learning Hero is a site/organization sponsored by a number of organizations, including the PTA and The Teaching Channel, that has many resources on how parents can support their children. It includes a number of materials on Common Core, particularly on understanding math changes.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Talking To Parents About The Common Core Standards.

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Parent Trigger Update

Here are a couple of interesting new developments on the “parent trigger”:

Ohio’s Parent-Trigger Law Has No Takers So Far is from Education Week. I’ve previously written about what was happening in Ohio at Parent Trigger Ready To Bring Chaos To Ohio Schools.

Parent-Trigger Law Proponent Ben Austin Resigns From Group He Founded is also from Ed Week.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning Why The Parent Trigger Isn’t Good For Parents, Kids Or Schools.

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“LA groups model of community engagement”

LA groups model of community engagement is a good article from Ed Source about two groups in Los Angeles who appear to be doing some good parent engagement (and student engagement) organizing. I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of either of them before.

Here’s an excerpt:

What sets InnerCity Struggle and Community Coalition, a similar organization in South Los Angeles, apart is that they organize both parents and youth and focus on ongoing education issues, said Peter Rivera, senior education program officer for the California Community Foundation in Los Angeles.

“They are not one-cause oriented,” he said. “They have a model of engagement you typically don’t see in districts.”

Unlike other groups that push for change, the two organizations have “street credibility that has been developed and cultivated over time,” said Steve Zimmer, an L.A. Unified school board member.

“They have deep respect for the young people they work with,” Zimmer added. “That’s why they’ve been effective. When I choose to embrace a policy they bring to me, I know it’s got some real strong roots. When I choose to challenge a policy in any way, I don’t do it lightly.”

It’s definitely worth reading the entire article.

I’m going to talk with people in Los Angeles to find out more about them. Unless I hear anything negative, I’ll be adding this info to The Best Examples Of Parent Engagement Through Community Organizing.

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“Toyota Family Teacher of the Year Award Call for Nominations”

Here’s an excerpt from their press announcement:

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), together with long-time partner Toyota, seeks out the nation’s most exemplary teachers that engage families in education.

The Toyota Family Teacher of the Year Award celebrates teachers who are dedicated to including more than one generation in the educational process. An exemplary educator’s school or program will receive a $20,000 prize to further efforts to engage families in learning together and join an elite group of educators across the country that have been recognized as such for nearly two decades.

Every nominee will represent success stories of bringing families into the learning process, and NCFL and Toyota will recognize a second prize winner with a $2,500 prize.

You can’t nominate yourself. Nominations can be made online here.

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National Family Literacy Day Is November 1st

National Family Literacy Day is November 1st.

Here’s how Read Write Think describes it (and the same link has lots of related resources):

National Family Literacy Day®, celebrated across the U.S., focuses on special activities and events that showcase the importance of family literacy programs. First held in 1994, the annual event is officially celebrated on November 1st, but many events are held throughout the month of November. Schools, libraries, and other literacy organizations participate through read-a-thons, celebrity appearances, book drives, and more

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Upcoming Google Hangout: “Family and Community Engagement Practices that Raise Achievement”

Scholastic will be hosting what looks like a very useful Google Hangout on family engagement. Here’s how they describe it:

Wed, Oct 8, 5:00 PM – 5:40 PM
Hangouts On Air – Broadcast for free

Join us for a Scholastic Mini-PD session focused on “Family and Community Engagement Practices that Raise Achievement.”

Through this 40-minute, interactive panel discussion, you will:
1) Learn about the U.S. Department of Education’s new “Dual-Capacity Framework” for family and community engagement.
2) Hear from one of the country’s top researchers and experts on how schools can create family and community engagement programs that drive academic achievement.
3) Take away tangible advice and ideas to implement in your school and community this year.

About the panelists:

–Dr. Karen L. Mapp is the senior lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-author of the U.S. DOE Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Mapp’s research and practice focus has been on the cultivation of partnerships among families, community members, and educators that support student achievement and school improvement. Dr. Mapp has partnered with Scholastic FACE (Family and Community Engagement) to co-author Scholastic Literacy Events – a new research-based event kit that provides educators with strategies and practices to engage families in activities that maximize student reading and writing success.

–Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell is the Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education.

–Karine Apollon is Vice President and General Manger of the Scholastic Classroom and Community Group where she oversees the company’s Family & Community Engagement (FACE) programs and partnerships.

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Guest Post From The Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project: “What School Reform Can Learn from Business: It’s not what you think”

As regular readers know, I’m a big supporter of the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project (see The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits).

Here’s a guest post written by Carrie Rose and Elaine Smith from the Project:

What School Reform Can Learn from Business: It’s not what you think

Change Won’t Work Without Relationships

SACRAMENTO: The world of education policy has been abuzz with a backlash against reformers inspired by the profit-driven environment of corporations. The New York Times recently ran an Opinion by Professor David L. Kirp of the University of California, Berkeley, titled “Teaching Is Not a Business” (August 17, 2014). Kirp says reformers bank on business concepts such as competition and innovation, but treating teachers like factory workers “might sound plausible in a think tank, but in practice it has been a flop.”

In the blogosphere, author Mike Klonskey and others question how billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s latest $120 million “gift” to San Francisco area schools will be used. Klonskey, in a recent blog, stated “What we know for sure is that all over the country, power-philanthropists are making “gifts” to resource-starved school systems. In return, the donors reserve the right to set education policy and funnel money to politically connected consultants and for-profit programs.” This follows an in-depth critique of Zuckerberg’s previous donation: a hundred million dollars to turn around schools in Newark, NJ in a 2010 ill-fated collaboration with Newark Mayor at the time (and now senator) Cory Booker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (The New Yorker, May 19, 2014).

Educators say that corporate tactics are a disaster, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Reformers who look to business models weren’t all wrong to take pointers from what works in capitalism. However, in a toxic atmosphere of politics and finger pointing, their vision got cloudy. Here’s what they missed: high-stakes testing and a competitive rewards system isn’t what makes a company’s products innovative, its markets expand, or its service excellent. Any veteran manager will tell you that relationships, up and down the org chart and in every link of the supply chain, will make or break the corporate bottom line. This is also, and especially, true in education.

As Professor Kirp states in the NY Times, “Every successful educational initiative of which I’m aware aims at strengthening personal bonds by building strong systems of support in the schools…The process of teaching and learning is an intimate act that neither computers not markets can hope to replicate.”

The power of relationships in school reform is familiar to the growing number of educators across the country that use home visits to build trust between schools and their communities. With a methodology that leads participants to question their assumptions and look for strengths, trained teachers and other school staff visit their students’ families at home, and then continue the relationship formed there to support the student. The Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, which started the model in Sacramento, CA, serves as a training and policy advocate for a national network of affiliates using this method. Each affiliate is a partnership between the local school district, teachers’ unions, and community groups.

This collaborative approach builds both trust and expertise within families, communities and educators, making the system more responsive, accountable and effective for students in public schools. This model was featured in a best practice case study in the U.S. Department of Education’s report “Partners in Education: Dual Capacity Framework for Family Engagement,” and is considered an example of “high-impact” family engagement.

Studies have documented the many benefits of our model of home visits. The collaborative partnerships between families and schools:

  • Increase parental involvement
  • Develop trust and understanding among parents and teachers
  • Identify common goals for students
  • Help parents learn how to better help their children
  • Help teachers make meaningful connections and avoid burnout
  • Question previous assumptions, and reduce cultural and racial bias
  • Build trust on all sides


Parent/Teacher Home Visits improve school climate, because they:

  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Reduce suspensions and expulsions
  • Improve communication between home and school
  • Share accountability


Home Visits increase student achievement, such as:

  • Improved test scores
  • Higher school-wide API scores
  • Improved accountability for students, parents, and teachers
  • Differentiated instruction for academic and developmental success
  • Increased preparation for college and career

Schools and districts across the US, from inner-cities to rural reservations, have adopted and adapted our model. Home visits work for families. They work for educators. And, most importantly, they work for students.

As Walt Gardner put it bluntly in his recent blog: “When historians look back at the reform movement presently sweeping the country, they’ll conclude that it failed to deliver on its promises because it gave too little importance to the relationship between teachers and students.”

For more information about PTHVP contact:

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

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