Obama’s Blueprint For Reform Is Very Weak On Parent Engagement/Involvement

The Washington Post just ran a column about a new book several education researchers have written severely criticizing the research base of President Obama’s “Blueprint For Reform,” his successor to No Child Left Behind.

Here’s a quote from that column:

For example, it says, “Family involvement is crucial to education, but the evidence for a causal link between student achievement and the type of parent involvement discussed is ambiguous and suspect. The proposals for safe schools boil down to increased local flexibility and increased gathering of survey data, neither of which can be expected to improve outcomes.”

That got me thinking that I should get around to actually reading what the Blueprint says about family involvement/engagement. And, boy, I was surprised to see how weak it really is.

It has three main components:

1. Replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone in twenty communities.

Now, I think that’s a great initiative.  But, as I’ve written before, I actually think parent engagement/involvement might be the weakest element of the HCZ. It’s important to provide the kind of services that the HCZ provides, but it provides social services to parents, not engagement.

2. Increase after-school program.

Again, I think it’s a great idea.  However, it is not a parent engagement/involvement program.  It’s a social service program that typically has little parent engagement.

3. Have school climate surveys.

I’m not making this up.  This is its third pillar — generate data through surveys.

Check-out the link to the Blueprint, and let me know if you think I’m giving an accurate portrayal of its plan for family involvement/engagement.

And let me know if you think it’s as weak as I think it is.

One thought on “Obama’s Blueprint For Reform Is Very Weak On Parent Engagement/Involvement

  1. LAUSD schools use the school climate surveys.
    While they are a nice idea, they are completely useless unless someone actually reads the surveys and acts upon the findings. At my school, the parents expressed feeling unwelcome by our principal. They wrote petitions, called her supervisors, and submitted videos and letters chronicling their dissatisfaction. The parent concerns were ignored even as the all-important test scores suffered and enrollment plummeted.
    The net result of the surveys was that parental involvement declined. Parents were no longer just unwelcome from the principal, but felt ignored and disrespected by the district.
    If school climate surveys are one of three key elements of the “Blueprint for Reform”, someone needs to head back to the drawing board.

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