Department of Education Releases New Parent and Community Engagement Framework

Today, the Department of Education released what they call a new “Parent and Community Engagement Framework.”

To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure what that means, but it can’t hurt for them to place a more public emphasis on parent engagement.

You can read about it at the Department’s blog post; get a good overview of it at Education Week; and actually access it here.

Of the documents they’re sharing, I think most people will find the Partners In Education report the most useful. It shares some good case studies.

People should keep in mind what Karen Mapp, one of the primary authors of the document (and one of the people I most respect in the parent engagement field) says as related in this tweet:

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National Family Engagement Conference Began Today

Five hundred people are attending the National Family Engagement Conference in Cincinnati, which began today.

You can read a pretty good overview of it at Education Week.

Here are a few selected tweets that came out of the conference this afternoon:

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inBloom Is On Its Deathbed & No Tears Are Shed

inBloom, the ill-conceived, Gates-funded effort to collect just about every piece of data on just about every K-12 student in America (and opposed by parents across the United States), lost its only remaining customer last month when New York State withdrew from it.

Here’s an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal:

New York has reversed course to use an Atlanta-based company to store student data for parents and officials to use to track student progress, after the plan triggered privacy concerns and a legal challenge….

“We will not store any student data with inBloom, and we have directed inBloom to securely delete all the non-identifiable data that has been stored,” a statement Wednesday from state Education Department spokesman Dennis Tomkins said.

InBloom was founded in 2013 with $100 million in grant money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corp. The technology drew early interest from several states, but New York was the only one fully involved.

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts On The inBloom Data Fiasco.

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British Schools Plan: “parents should get a ‘checklist’ telling them how to raise their children”

British schools planning to give parents a checklist telling them what skills and knowledge their kids should have before they attend kindergarten.

The article about it in The Telegraph has over seven hundred comments, and they’re worth skimming.

The guidelines seem to make sense, but the tone and rhetoric behind the checklist just seems so patronizing.

What do you think?

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Secretary Duncan To Be Guest On Next #PTchat

As I’ve previously posted, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be participating in April 8th’s #PTchat on Twitter.

Here’s the announcement on the DOE’s blog:

On April 8, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be taking to Twitter to gain additional feedback from parents and educators on community and parent engagement best practices during the weekly #PTchat. The chat will coincide with the National Family Engagement Conference in Cincinnati, which aims to bring together educators and community activists to raise awareness of community involvement in schools.

Duncan will moderate the Twitter chat and share information about recently released family and community engagement resources from the Department of Education.

  • What: #PTchat with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
  • When: 9pm EDT, Tuesday, April 8.
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Want To Organize A “Parent Camp” At Your School?

I’ve previously posted about the idea of a “parent camp,” and now have learned that there is a site full of resources to help people organize their own.

The site is called #PARENTCAMP: An Unconference For Parents & Educators, and here’s how it describes itself:

The ParentCamp experience, by design, is a hybrid “un-conference” opportunity for parents and teachers to come together and model the four core beliefs highlighted in Beyond the Bakesale. The experience levels the playing field, putting all stakeholders in a circle for actual, face-to-face discussion about what is best for kids. It’s important to understand the difference between a traditional conference and the un-conference feel we worked to bring to ParentCamp.

On Saturday, April 27, 2013, @KnappElementary hosted the first Parent Camp “unconference” for parents and educators. It’s called an unconference because the event relies upon the expertise and perspective of the entire room, not just the main presenter like the typical stand and deliver conference. Every adult within the session brings an important and unique perspective to contribute to sharing strategies and ideas to benefit student learning, teaching and parenting.

There are “discussion leaders” in each session who set the tone for collaborative dialogue led by teachers, parents, school and community leaders. Sessions are geared toward elementary, middle and/or high school parents.

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Kellogg Foundation Releases Poll Results & Increases Funding For Parent Involvement Programs

I’ve previously posted about the Kellogg Foundation’s plan to make $5 million in parent involvement grants over three years.

However, they apparently received so many applications for funding they have decided to spend $5 million in the first year alone. I assume that means that they’ll add more funding in the subsequent years, but don’t know that for sure (and a quick look on their website didn’t provide an answer).

The same article that shared info about their expanding funding also announced poll results finding that the lack of parent involvement was the main education problem cited by African-Americans.

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A Parent-Teacher Conference Without Numbers

Two recent posts by parents at other blogs both made the point that they are tired of having the focus of their conversations on measuring their children by numbers.

In What parents don’t want to hear at parent-teacher conferences, Journo Adviser says:

When my wife and I sat down at our daughter’s 5th grade parent-teacher conference last week, we hoped to get a sense that the teacher understood our daughter and her strengths and weaknesses. But we didn’t.

Instead, the teacher provided us with a litany of numbers and test results the school and the education-testing industry use to define our daughter and her education.

And, in EduSanity: The No Number Parent-Teacher Conference Challenge, Jason Endacott begins this way:

I met with my sons’ teachers yesterday for parent teacher conferences. Both of their teachers are amazing in their own unique ways, but they share a common love for young people that long ago convinced me that my boys were in good hands.

I started with Cooper’s second grade teacher and after exchanging the usual pleasantries, we sat down at the little table where my adult knees didn’t quite fit and I told her I wanted to issue a friendly challenge.

“Let’s discuss Cooper’s progress in your class without using a single number that you did not generate.”

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

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“Principal Connection / Tips for Better Parent-Teacher Conferences”

Principal Connection / Tips for Better Parent-Teacher Conferences is a nice article by Thomas R. Hoerr in ASCD Educational Leadership.

Here’s an excerpt:

Too often, parent-teacher conferences are seen as one-way reports from teacher to parent, but a parent-teacher conference should be a collaboration. Teachers have information to share, but they also need to allocate time for questions and discussion. We all need to work to be good listeners (I sure do), and this can be difficult for people who are used to speaking to students from a position of authority. No matter how valuable our words, if we talk so much that parents can only listen, we’re missing a chance to work together and serve our students better.

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

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“A Recipe for Home Visits: 1 Afternoon, 2 Neighborhoods, 4 Families & Frijoles”

A Recipe for Home Visits: 1 Afternoon, 2 Neighborhoods, 4 Families & Frijoles is a nice post by Jessica Cuthbertson.

Here’s an excerpt:

With the help of a multilingual colleague, a teacher workday, and a few phone calls, we visited four families in two different neighborhoods over the course of an afternoon. We intentionally selected families who were unable to make the last round of parent/teacher conferences; families we don’t see at school functions, not because they don’t care, but because of complicated work schedules or graveyard shifts, transportation issues, language barriers, or a combination of obstacles.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About Teacher Home Visits.

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“Schools central to Promise Zone anti-poverty strategy”

Schools central to Promise Zone anti-poverty strategy is a good overview written up at Ed Source.

It also reflects the questions I have about how seriously the role of parent – and community — engagement has played — both at the original Harlem Children’s Zone and in the expansion program. As I’ve written before (you can see those posts in My Best Posts On The Harlem Children’s Zone & Other “Promise Zones”) they seem to often view families as “clients,” and not “partners.”

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Philadelphia Inquirer’s Editorial On “Opting-Out”

Here’s an excerpt from Valerie Strauss’ piece at The Washington Post:

The editorial board of a big-city newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, has gone on record as not only supporting the right of parents to have their children opt out of high-stakes standardized tests but also saying they are “right to protest” in this manner.

I’m adding it to The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children.

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“Standing Up to Testing”

Standing Up to Testing is a New York Times article on parents opting their students out of standardized testing in New York City.

Here’s an excerpt:

This movement of refusal does not evolve out of antipathy toward rigor and seriousness, as critics enjoy suggesting, but rather out of advocacy for more comprehensive forms of assessment and a depth of intellectual experience that test-driven pedagogy rarely allows. In the past year, the movement has grown considerably among parents and educators, across political classifications and demographics.

You might also be interested in The Best Posts On Parents “Opting-Out” Of Standardized Tests For Their Children.

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New Game: “Start the Talk: A Parent Learning Tool”

Here’s a new well-done online Choose Your Own Adventure game that is being nominated for an award at the Games For Change Festival:

Start the Talk: A Parent Learning Tool. It’s designed as a role-playing exercise for parents so they can practice speaking with their children about under-age drinking. Surprisingly — at least to me — it seems to offer some very good advice, and I can see it being useful to both parents and children.

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“Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word”

Trying to Close a Knowledge Gap, Word by Word is an article and video from The New York Times that gives a pretty good over of research, concerns and potential strategies related to the “word gap.”

It includes discussion about the Rhode Island that’s inserting recording devices into children’s clothing, which I have previously posted about skeptically (though I’ve tried to maintain an open mind).

You can find those posts, as well as others, at The Best Resources For Learning About The “Word Gap.”

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