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

www.pthvp.org                [email protected]            916/448-5290

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“White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement” Was Held Today

I had previously posted about the Kellogg Foundation-sponsored White House Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement, and it was held today.

I’d be interested in hearing a report from anyone who attended.

Here’s the information I have about it so far:

White House symposium focuses on family engagement appeared in The Washington Post, but says surprisingly little about what actually happened at the event.

The Kellogg Foundation put-out a press release
this morning about the event. The most interesting info in it is a summary about a poll they had taken of parents. Here are some results:

The event also dovetails with the release of a recent public opinion poll, commissioned by the Kellogg Foundation*, of 1,000 parents nationwide, which found that 96 percent of parents believe they play a role in ensuring their child has a quality education, but that teachers (73 percent), principals (58 percent) and local officials (46 percent) also have meaningful roles. Among other findings:

U.S. parents believe that involvement in their child’s education is most critical between birth and pre-school (42 percent). That percentage increases among African American and Hispanic parents to 51 and 47 percent, respectively.

Ten percent of all parents, rising to 18 percent of Hispanic parents, say they are actively involved in their children’s education, but do not feel welcome to participate. However, the majority of parents (82 percent) do say they are actively involved and feel welcome.

Forty-six percent of U.S. parents report that lack of time is an obstacle that may prevent them from fully engaging in their child’s education. Nearly 1 in 5 reports that a lack of understanding of what their child is learning also serves as a significant barrier facing diverse and low-income families.

Apparently, they invited one of the co-authors
of the very unhelpful book, Broken Compass, to speak (see The Best Commentaries On The “Broken Compass” Parent Involvement Book). I hope they had other people there to set the record straight.

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“Raising Readers” Is A Scholastic Program For Teachers To Use With Spanish & English-Speaking Parents

Raising Readers is from Scholastic, and it has a lot of free materials — in both English and Spanish — to help promote activities parents can do with their children to encourage reading.

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure exactly how useful they are, but it’s always nice to have some decent materials in a language other than English for parents.

So, I’m adding it to The Best Multilingual Resources For Parents.

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Odd Question: Are Parents “Assets Or Liabilities”?

John Merrow, who produces education-related segments for the PBS News Hour, recently published a post about parent engagement titled Assets or Liabilities?

Though certainly there are teachers who are not very positive about working with parents, my suspicion is that they are in the distinct minority. Merrow appears to think otherwise.

His post is a prelude of sorts to a segment about a parent involvement program in Philadelphia. It’s supposed to air in a few weeks. It should be interesting.

You might also be interested in The Best Reasons Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame.

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El Paso Teachers Union Recognized For Parent Engagement Work

The El Paso Teachers Union was recently honored by the National Education Association for its parent engagement work.

Here’s the announcement from the NEA:

The Rosena J. Willis Memorial Award will be given to the El Paso Teachers Association (EPTA) for the work it has done to restore public confidence in the public school system after former superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was sentenced to more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud in order to raise standardized test scores. To re-engage the public, the district sponsored a public forum called, “Social Justice in Public Education: A Call to Action from Ground Zero,” attended by more than 400 parents, students, educators, and concerned community members. NEA Vice President Lily Eskelsen-García was the keynote speaker and during the course of two days, difficult but necessary discussions were held on how to meet the needs of the most economically disadvantaged students, many who are English language learners. Since the forum, a Parent Task Force has gone door to door interviewing parents on what needs to change so that public schools can better serve their children. EPTA is an outstanding example of not only how to work proactively to change the narrative and image—but how to reconnect with parents and the community.

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“Symposium on Transformative Family Engagement” To Be Held At The White House In July

This is from an email I received:

It is our pleasure to invite you to a symposium on Transformative Family Engagement to be held at the White House on July 30-31, 2014.

Representatives from the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation are excited to bring together administration officials, philanthropic partners, family engagement leaders and field experts to expand the conversation about family engagement as a major contributor to children’s school readiness and success.

From the nation’s capital to communities across the country, there is a clear need to better align and leverage strategies, policies and investments that greatly contribute to creating environments in which all children can succeed. It is our hope that this symposium will strengthen the foundation for building pathways for leaders in families, schools and communities to work together toward the same goal of success for all children through a shared vision for and commitment to transformative family engagement efforts.

I suspect it’s a very well-circulated email so, if you didn’t receive one, I assume you can just contact the Kellogg Foundation to get an invitation.

I can’t go, but would definitely be interested in hearing who else is attending. If you’re going, and want to write a guest post about what happens, please let me know.

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Excellent New Issue Of The School Community Journal

The School Community Journal is a must-read for anyone involved in parent engagement activities, and you can access the new issue online here.

I’m particularly impressed with Lee Shumow’s critique/review of the infamous Broken Compass book which leads off the issue. I’m adding it to The Best Commentaries On The “Broken Compass” Parent Involvement Book.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg — check out the rest of the articles, too!

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Free Webinar On Monday: “Addressing Barriers to Successful Engagement of Immigrant and Refugee Parents of Young Children”

Addressing Barriers to Successful Engagement of Immigrant and Refugee Parents of Young Children is the title of a free Webinar on Monday. It’s sponsored by the Migrant Policy Institute.

Here’s how they describe it:

To better understand the experiences and challenges faced by early childhood programs and immigrant and refugee parents as they seek to connect with one another, the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy (NCIIP) conducted a study seeking to identify the unique needs of newcomer parents and recommendations for addressing them. MPI partnered with leading organizations in California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington state to conduct field work for the study, which spans the range of early childhood parent skill, engagement, and leadership programs.

This discussion of the report’s findings includes a preview of new state-level sociodemographic data on foreign-born parents of young children compiled by MPI. Presenters discuss the top-line data and findings from the report, barriers facing immigrant parents, and challenges and opportunities facing policymakers in this arena.

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