“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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Free Webinar With Anne Henderson This Tuesday On Parent Engagement

Anne Henderson, one of the top — if not THE top — expert on parent engagement in the U.S., is leading a free Webinar this Tuesday. Here’s the information that I’m copying and pasting from the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education:

Free Webinar, April 22: High-Impact Strategies to Engage Families & Enhance Student Achievement

A free webinar on Tuesday, April 22, 2:00 PM — 3:30 PM ET

Anne T. Henderson, internationally recognized family engagement expert, will discuss high impact strategies to engage families and improve student achievement. Anne will offer concrete examples and guidance on how to better connect with families.

Hear from a parent of youth enrolled in a 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) program and a 21st CCLC program director as they discuss on-the-ground family engagement experiences.

Get strategies and resources you can use to engage families and enhance youth outcomes.

This webinar will offer:

  • High Impact Strategies
  • On-the-Ground Experiences
  • Useful Resources
  • Opportunity for Discussion

You will also hear from Project LEAP, a 21st Century Community Learning Center based in Rochester, New York, about strategies they use to engage families in student learning.

Register here


This webinar is sponsored by the Family Engagement Resource Providers (FERP) project of Manhattan Strategy Group.

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Kellogg Foundation Announces Nearly $14 Million In Grants For Parent Involvement Programs

I’ve previously posted about the Kellogg Foundation’s initiative to fund parent involvement/engagement programs targeting families with children age eight and below.

They just announced a new set of grants and I thought it would be useful just to reprint their press release since it listed all the grantees.

Unfortunately, they didn’t send out anything indicating what specific efforts they were funding and, of course, we don’t know what they chose not to fund. In other words, right now there’s no telling what their definition of  what a “transformative family engagement program” really looks like to them. (They’ve now made that list available, and you can see the grant descriptions here)

With luck, they’ll be sharing more information about the grants soon…

W.K. Kellogg Foundation announces recipients of $13.7 million investment to empower parents as leaders and key decision makers in education

Thirty organizations from 18 states and the District of Columbia to create opportunities that connect schools, communities and families for economic and early school success

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) is pleased to announce a total investment of $13.7 million to 30 exceptional organizations developing and implementing transformative family engagement programs in the field of early childhood education.

In September 2013, WKKF received more than 1,130 applications for this investment, the most ever received for a single funding opportunity in the foundation’s 83-year history. The unprecedented interest and clear demand from the field was an important indication about both the need and opportunity to invest in efforts that would result in increased family engagement in a child’s academic life.

“This was an eye-opening moment for us. We knew there was a need and a value around the issue of family engagement, but we didn’t realize the extent of the shared value around families’ desire to more deeply engage in their children’s education,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation. “We are actively seeding and cultivating authentic family leadership programs that create opportunities for parents to be engaged from the very beginning of their children’s education.”

The 30 organizations share WKKF’s commitment to family engagement, which:

  • Is defined as a shared responsibility between families, schools and communities for student learning and achievement;
  • Is a continuous process from birth to third grade and beyond that occurs in multiple settings where children learn;
  • Takes place in environments where empowered parents and families are leaders; and
  • Requires a shift in national conversations so that all families are viewed as powerful assets for their children’s education.

“All too often families are not at the table when it comes time to make major decisions impacting their children’s education,” said Carla Thompson, vice president for program strategy at WKKF. “These organizations recognize that family engagement is a core strategy connected to improving learning outcomes and are working tirelessly to lift up the voices of families in an effort to set all children on a path to success.”

A complete list of the 30 winners is provided below:

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Parent Coordinators and Parent Engagement

I’ve written a lot about Elisa Gonzalez, our school’s extraordinary parent coordinator. Her work is invaluable to our school’s overall success.

As part of New York City Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s often-stated goal to increase parent engagement there, a New York City parent coordinator has some suggestions for her:

As part of her pledge to boost parent involvement, I hope Fariña considers reinforcing the role of the parent coordinator. The way things stand now, she might be tempted to scrap them: the D.O.E. would save upwards of $39,000 per school per year—the figure at which parent coordinator salaries have been capped since 2003 (many make less).

But for this modest investment—a sliver of the D.O.E.’s $25 billion annual budget—I would argue that students and families are getting a bargain.

A more fruitful strategy would be to elevate the authority of parent coordinators and leverage their capacity to get adults engaged in the school. Train them in working with families and kids in crisis, with students with serious behavioral problems—in managing the daily realities of our system. And make the job worth sticking to, by creating channels for advancement and raising salaries.

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