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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“Donation inequality felt among Santa Rosa schools”

Donation inequality felt among Santa Rosa schools is the headline of an article appearing in the Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat.

It’s fairly lengthy, and highlights an ongoing issue in many schools in the inequity of private fundraising. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seriously discuss potential solutions.

I’m still adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Parent Fundraising & Equity Issues.

Thanks to Laura Gonzalez for the tip.

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“Community Schools Will Succeed If Parents Are Engaged”

Community Schools Will Succeed If Parents Are Engaged is the headline of an article written by a parent leader discussing the planned opening of 100 community schools in New York City.

He echoes the concerns I’ve expressed often times about the lack of parent engagement in many community schools.

Here’s an excerpt (the author begins by talking about the community school his children now attend):

The key to the success of this school, which should be applied to each of the mayor’s 100 community schools, is strong parent engagement from the beginning in both design and evaluation. Unlike at PS 73, parents at New Settlement are treated as full partners. The doors are open, there is mutual trust among teachers, administrators, and parents, and constant outreach is made to parents to get us involved.

In the mayor’s initiative, each school will receive a full-time resource coordinator. They will recruit partnerships and resources for the school, working with the principal and school community to create a well-designed and effective community school. I strongly believe that this is a job for people with passion—for individuals who truly believe transforming education is possible.

The engagement of parents must be a large part of measuring the success of these resource coordinators. They must meet parents where they are, and reach out especially to parents who aren’t involved in the school through home visits, phone calls, community meetings, whatever it takes. They should listen to parents’ ideas, their anxieties and their vision. Parents should be offered clear pathways to become leaders in the school and the community.

I’m adding this to The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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“Family Writing Project: Sanctuary and Source of Support”

Family Writing Project: Sanctuary and Source of Support is a very interesting article about joint parent/student writing projects The National Writing Project is supporting in Phoenix.

They’re doing it with English Language Learners and their families.

Here’s a short excerpt:

The initial idea for this program stemmed from Tracey’s belief that her second grade students, although placed in a sheltered ELL program, had incredible strengths as writers. She also knew they had supportive and engaged families who wanted to support their children as writers and readers, but needed a safe space, strategies, and invitations to write alongside their children.

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Guest Post: Parent Engagement In Scotland

I recently wrote a post titled Proposal to Let Principals Levy Fines On “Bad Parents” In Britain – That Sure Will Help Develop Parent Engagement about a ridiculous idea by Ofsted (which I believe is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Department of Education).

Eileen Prior, who is head of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, a small, parent-led charity dedicated to supporting positive parental involvement in their child’s education, has written this guest post in response. Her organization has more than 60 years’ experience in working with parents all over Scotland, and encourage a partnership approach at local and national level.

Scotland’s schools have an impressive international reputation, and you can learn more about them at The Best Resources For Learning About Scotland’s Schools:

The recent pronouncement by the boss of Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) that parents who fail to support their children’s education should be fined, made me glad to be in Scotland.

Thankfully Ofsted has no jurisdiction in this part of the world: education has long been organised differently in Scotland and was devolved to the Scottish Government in 1999. 

I honestly find it baffling that any education system which claims to support parental involvement in education – indeed refers to partnership with parents – can simultaneously see the punishment of parents who fall short of expectations as acceptable in any way. What place does punishment have in a partnership? 

I think in Scotland we have a different cultural approach when it comes to engaging parents. Since 2007 we have had parental involvement legislation, which is designed to give parents both rights – and some responsibilities – when it comes to engaging with their child’s school. It does not touch on the ‘at home good parenting’ issues highlighted by Desfores but rather makes the leap of faith outlined by Mongon and Chapman in 2012, ie that a closer connection with families will lead to better outcomes for young people. 

We also have Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) – Scotland’s attempt to equip our young people with the skills and aptitudes they will need into the future.  With refreshed approaches to teaching and learning, CfE also spells out the important role of parents as partners in their child’s learning.

Ultimately, the policy imperative in Scotland around parental involvement is about impacting on outcomes – educational, economic and social – as we continue to struggle with an attainment gap which too closely reflects the pattern of haves and have not’s in our society.

The attainment gap at school, in turn, influences long term prospects in education and work. Poverty is a strong indicator of success at school in Scotland (though by no means the only only) – something which does not sit comfortably with any of the political parties.

With their focus on parents as partners in our children’s education, the combination of CfE and the Parental Involvement Act is heady stuff – their narrative of working with parents could hardly be more different from Ofsted’s approach.


Desforges, C. and Abouchaar, A. (2003), The impact of parental involvement, parental support and family education on pupil achievement and adjustment: a literature review, Research Report No 433  London: DfES. 

Mongon, D., and Chapman, C., (2012) High-Leverage Leadership: improving outcomes in educational settings, London, Routledge

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

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Study: “School Access and Participation: Family Engagement Practices in the New Latino Diaspora”

‘School Access and Participation: Family Engagement Practices in the New Latino Diaspora’ is the title of a new research study by Rebecca Lowenhaupt.

It seems to be behind a paywall, but you can read a quite extensive summary here.

Here’s an excerpt:

In recent years the ‘Latino Diaspora’ has spread to states in the Midwest and Northeast, which have relatively little tradition of serving the needs of immigrants. Using Wisconsin as a case study, Rebecca Lowenhaupt examines how schools are supporting Latino students and their families. She finds that while schools largely ensure Spanish translation and interpretation of various school processes such as parent-teacher conferences, Spanish-speaking families tend not to join in key school activities such as meetings and events. She argues that schools with changing demographics have much to gain from seeking ways to foster active participation and agency among immigrant families by going beyond traditional methods of engagement.

Based on the summary, it doesn’t appear to share anything that most of us educators don’t already know, but it never hurts to have research backing effective strategies.

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British Mother Fined For Taking Son Out Of School To Attend Her Wedding

Earlier today, I posted about a new parents group in England organizing for more parent engagement in schools and against that country’s ridiculous law of finding parents for taking their kids out of school during the year.

Now, The Telegraph has run a story about:

Clare Whitelegg has been told she cannot take her son out of school for her wedding as it does not amount to ‘exceptional circumstances’

Just bizarre…

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“Parents Want A Say” Is New British Group Formed To Give Parents A Voice In Ed Policies

The Guardian reports on a new British parents group called Parents Want A Say.

Its initial impetus was fighting what appears to me a ridiculous policy of fining parents when they take their kids on vacation while school is in session, but they’re not stopping there:

While the group’s initial focus is on changing the policy on term-time absences, Langman says it is only one of many areas where parents feel that they are not consulted in decisions about their children’s education. Ultimately, he says, Parents Want a Say will branch into other issues, aiming to “bridge the gap between parents and education”.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

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Parents Organize Charter School With Support Of Teachers Union

Many parents — and teachers — were rightfully upset last year when our Sacramento district closed a number of elementary schools, especially because the district wasn’t transparent with the decision-making process they used.

Now, a very large group of parents, with the support of our teachers union, has gotten approval from the School Board to start a “dependent” (in other words, committing to hire teachers covered under the collective bargaining agreement) charter school in one of the closed schools.

You can read more about their efforts in this Sacramento Bee article.

It’s another example of why Why Parents Should Be Looked At As Allies & Not Targets Of Blame.

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“Truancy court: Parents get support, kids get to school”

I’ve previously posted about a number of punitive actions districts have considered or taken against parents in order to get actions taken by them.

Truancy court: Parents get support, kids get to school is an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that takes a different approach:

Here’s an excerpt:

In the past 10 years, 740 parents have been prosecuted and charged with truancy infractions and 85 to 90 percent of their 1,000 children have shown improved attendance.

“I think it is a combination of the power of a courtroom and the justice system coupled with the assistance that’s provided through all of the case management and health care providers plus the fact the parents are mandated to come back to court on a regular basis,” she said. “What it shows is that the justice system, over and above everything else, is powerful and doesn’t necessarily need to be punitive.”

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“Big Brother: Meet the Parents”

Big Brother: Meet the Parents is an article at Politico.

Here’s an excerpt:

A months-long review by POLITICO of student privacy issues, including dozens of interviews, found the parent privacy lobby gaining momentum — and catching big-data advocates off guard. Initially dismissed as a fringe campaign, the privacy movement has attracted powerful allies on both the left and right. The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for more student privacy protection. So is the American Legislative Exchange Council, the organization of conservative legislators.

The amateur activists have already claimed one trophy, torpedoing a privately run, $100 million database set up to make it easier for schools to share confidential student records with private companies. The project, known as inBloom, folded this spring under tremendous parent pressure, just 15 months after its triumphal public launch.

Now, parents are rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases being built to track children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers.

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

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Surprise! Study Finds That Chicago Parents Unhappy With School Closures — Moratorium Urged

Report Calls for Moratorium on Chicago School Closures is the headline of an Ed Week article.

Here’s an excerpt:

A new report from the University of Illinois, Chicago, calls for a moratorium on school closures, turnarounds, and the expansion of charter schools in the city, citing the disruptive nature and harm those actions cause families and the lack of evidence that they have improved education.

The report, “Root Shock: Parents’ Perspective on School Closings In Chicago,” looked at parents’ view on the massive school closures of a year ago, when the Chicago Board of Education voted to close nearly 50 schools, turn around another five and co-locate 17 elementary schools in other school buildings—the largest single action on school closures in the country at the time.

Researchers Pauline Lipman and Kelly Vaughan found that parents felt the closures negatively impacted their children and the new schools to which they were sent were not an improvement; they felt excluded from the decisions to close the schools; and the closures left a deep distrust between parents and the Chicago Public Schools.

I’m adding this info to The Best Posts & Articles On The Impact Of School Closures.

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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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Proposal to Let Principals Levy Fines On “Bad Parents” In Britain – That Sure Will Help Develop Parent Engagement

The Director of Ofsted (which I think is close to the equivalent of the U.S. Department of Education in the United States — correct me if I’m wrong) in Britain wants to give head teachers (principals) the right to fine “bad parents.”

What is a bad parent, you might ask:

Wilshaw, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said in an interview with the Times that heads needed to demand more from parents, saying: “If parents didn’t come into school, didn’t come to parents’ evening, didn’t read with their children, didn’t ensure they did their homework, I would tell them they were bad parents.

“I think headteachers should have the power to fine them. It’s sending the message that you are responsible for your children no matter how poor you are.”

You can read more about it at The Guardian and at The BBC.

I’m adding this proposal to The Worst Parent Engagement Ideas.

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“Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveils state’s ‘community schools’ program at Hillcrest School in Peekskill”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveils state’s ‘community schools’ program at Hillcrest School in Peekskill is headline of a short article and video at a New York newspaper’s site.

It’s part of a statewide program
providing $500,000 grants to school to create community schools and was supported by teachers unions.

I’m adding the info to The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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