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:

“School Reformers” Steal PTA’s Name

I have a lot of issues with what some people do in the name of school reform — like stealing the PTA’s name.

A group of hedge fund managers — I’m not kidding, that’s who’s on their board — started a New York City organization called… PTA Now. Here’s their flyer:

Thanks to Ed Wize for the tip.

It appears they might have just changed their name to “FTA” (Families Taking Action) because of the outcry against the deceit.

Is this how these folks operate in the business world?

New Online Resource To Answer Parent & Student Questions About College

En Camino: Educational Toolkit For Families is a series of free online “modules,” available in both English and Spanish, designed to help answer parent and student questions about college. It was just unveiled a few minutes ago by the National Center For Family Literacy.

I’m adding this resource to two “The Best…” lists:

The Best Posts About Getting Our Students To Attend College

The Best Sites For Encouraging ELL’s To Attend College

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Showing Students Why They Should Continue Their Academic Career.

Tenth Anniversary Of FINE: Family Involvement Network of Educators

This is the tenth anniversary Of FINE, the Family Involvement Network of Educators. It comes out of the Harvard Family Research Project.

Their most recent newsletter includes:

a handful of our favorite FINE resources from the last 10 years, all of which are related to some of the content areas we will be exploring in greater depth during FINE’s 2011 anniversary year: teacher preparation/professional development, early childhood education, data use and technology, and evaluation. Meanwhile, this special issue’s commentary reflects on how the field of family, school, and community engagement has evolved over the past decade, and outlines the upcoming projects in the field that HFRP aims to showcase through FINE in the coming year.

Edutopia Offers Free “Home-to-School Connections Guide”

Edutopia has just announced publication of a free downloadable “Home-to-School Connections Guide.”

This is how they describe it:

Our latest free classroom resource guide, Home-to-School Connections Guide: Tips, Tech Tools, and Strategies for Improving Family-to-School Communication, is filled with resources and ideas for building and strengthening the bonds between schools, families, and communities. For educators and parents alike, this guide provides tools for seizing the digital moment or bringing the conversation home through 10 top tips for nurturing collaboration and partnerships.

It’s worth checking-out….

“Parent And Educator Partnership”

Parent & Educator Partnership is an organization in Illinois that describes itself like this:

The Parent & Educator Partnership is committed to helping Local Education Agencies across Illinois in constructing, implementing, and sustaining school-based programs of family and community involvement. We believe parents and educators must co-construct this process.

Our staff will assist Local Education Agencies with understanding the family engagement requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Title 1, Section 1118). The standards for partnership building are:

Welcoming all families into the school community;
Communicating effectively;
Supporting student success;
Speaking up for every child;
Sharing power; and
Collaborating with community.

I don’t know anything about them, but their website seems to have some useful resources.

“Using Student Data to Engage Families”?

Using Student Data to Engage Families is the theme of October FINE Newsletter from Harvard (published by the Harvard Family Research Project).

Though I’m a big believer in the use of data, I think in terms of being “data-informed” and not “data-driven.” Unfortunately, most of the time others talk about data, they use it in terms of being “data-driven.”

I don’t think all of the FINE articles in this newsletter have that tone, but some make me a bit wary. It’s still worth a look, and FINE’s newsletter is a must-read for anybody interesting in parent involvement issues.

“The Home-School Connection: Lessons Learned in a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Community”

A review of the book The Home-School Connection: Lessons Learned in a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Community has just appeared in the journal, education review // reseñas educativas.

It’s about a family literacy project based in Chicago that serves Latino immigrant parents and is called Project FLAME. I had never heard of it before, and it sounds interesting….

Interesting Effort In Boston To Connect School/Community

The Public School Insights blog has an interview with the leaders of a project in Boston called City Connects. It’s designed to help connect students to both school-based and community resources, and has resulted in higher student achievement.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview — both the question and its answer:

Public School Insights: In many policy debates recently, attempts to talk about the way in which out-of-school factors impede learning are often characterized as attempts to let schools off the hook, to make excuses for very poor schooling. Do you ever run up against that characterization?

DiNatale: I was a principal in Boston for 26 years. As the school leader it was my job to look at the root causes of the deficiency in scores of some of our students. And I did not want the faculty to put heavy emphasis on what I call blaming the student or blaming the family. We have to be realistic and know that as schools and as educators, we need to do much more and to accept more accountability for student achievement.
At the same time, we are educating whole children. Children who live in neighborhoods that are very impoverished in many ways, and we know poverty has an impact on student achievement. There are growing numbers of families not able to provide the opportunities that more affluent families can. Sometimes children’s health needs are not addressed in the way they need to be for them to come to school and sit in a classroom and learn.

We cannot negate any of that. We have to put systems in place to ensure that every child has his or her maximum opportunity to learn. And we should not blame anyone. We just say we know students have strengths and needs and that we must account for that if we want every child to achieve high standards.