For a printable version of this statement, click on the title: Family Involvement
When parents, teachers, students, and others view one another as knowledgeable partners in education, a caring community forms around students. ~Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
We’ve all heard it before — “parents are important,” “parents make a difference.” Parental involvement or engagement, pick your terms, it doesn’t matter. For too many of us, these are just words strung together making empty statements. And lawmakers set the phrases down in law, as if that will reform dysfunctional districts.
Successful school districts are the rule in this country. Those districts have similar characteristics that include individually tailored learning with effective teachers and an appropriate curriculum with instruction taking place in an inviting, caring environment. These schools don’t just happen. They are guided by leaders with the knowledge and experience to fully understand the importance and complexities of inclusion plus they possess the skills and desire to overcome barriers to cooperation. That cooperation extends to the greater community to ensure support for their youngest citizens. These are not only successful schools, they are successful communities.
In dysfunctional school districts, the governing structure and leadership have not been held accountable for the underperformance of their schools. To meet the parental involvement requirements of No Child Left Behind, they pick the most easily co-opted parents and community members to put down on paper to be on their school improvement committees, effectively being exclusive. Without a broader view of children’s learning needs, those needs will not be met. These schools are not successful and their communities fail to see raising children as a shared responsibility.
When parents fail to do justice to the importance of education, great communities step up to support the children that are least fortunate. They see raising educated children to become informed and responsible citizens as essential for the greater good of society. We would all be better off to look at education this way if for no other reason than the cost of not properly educating every student. The school-to-prison pipeline is real.
So, what makes the statements of the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action organizing committee any different?
Answer: There are parents on the organizing committee ready to take the problems surrounding family and community involvement / engagement to the mat. They can’t do it alone. They, and the children that will benefit, need your help NOW.
Solutions: Each community must have their own unique solutions but the country as a whole must change the direction of the national law No Child Left Behind. We must make it right so we can get on with making all schools better for kids.
- “Beyond Input: Achieving Authentic Participation in School Reform” (Harvard Family Research Project)