Reforming Parent Engagement

Los Angeles SchoolsReforming Parent Engagement: A Necessary Element to Improve Student Outcomes

We all instinctively know – and research has shown time and time again – that parent engagement is inextricably linked with student achievement. This, along with effective teaching and student effort are the essential pillars of educational success outlined in Superintendent Cortines’ Strategic Roadmap for LASUD.

This Tuesday, December 14th, the Board of Education will have the opportunity to consider my resolution entitled Parents as Equal Partners in the Education of their Children.

I felt the need to bring this resolution forth because although the District has made important progress in the area parental engagement, at best, it has been incremental in nature. We need to rethink our current parent engagement strategies and investments so that our District’s infrastructure, programming, and budget allocations reflect our rhetoric that parents are essential partners in our effort to improve academic achievement.

The resolution, co-authored by Board Members Steve Zimmer & Nury Martinez, seeks to create the infrastructure, incentives, and accountability needed to realize a true culture of parent engagement — one that values, empowers, and challenges every parent to be an active partner in their child’s education.

Specifically, the Parents as Equal Partners resolution has three primary objectives:

  • Make clear the rights, roles and responsibilities of parents by creating a Parents’ Bill of Rights & Responsibilities.
  • Build parental capacity for involvement and academic support by bolstering the Parent Centers at every school. These centers would be renamed Parent and Family Centers and would provide access to comprehensive wrap-around family services and information. By redirecting resources that have not been yielding the results we need in the area of parent involvement, we can invest in our Parent & Family Centers so that every Center has the capacity to develop and implement high quality programming, including training and other supports to help parents navigate the educational system, support their child’s learning at home, advocate for their child, and participate in their local schools.
  • Hold principals and local district superintendents accountable for ensuring a welcoming environment for parents at the school site and establishing a robust Parent & Family Center. These accountabilities would be included in their performance evaluations and in every school report card.

yolie floresEngaging and involving parents requires a shift in how we best use our limited resources. It also requires a shift in the mindset of the people at every school and with every parent. This type of change is not easy, but is essential if we are to give every child the opportunity to reach his or her highest aspirations.

While the support for this resolution has been overwhelming – locally and nationally – there are those who fear and resist the reallocation of resources or the accountabilities essential to parental engagement. Those fears must be overcome and we must put the interest of our students and all our parents first.

I hope you will support this effort. To see the full resolution, please go here.

Sincerely,

Yolie Flores
Member, LAUSD Board of Education

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Comments

  1. Joe Weinstein says

    Thanks so much for sharing this!

    Decade after decade, district after district, the same battle has to be re-fought and re-won. Namely, getting the schools to view and treat and involve and – yes, exploit! – parents as partners (for the kids and their development) rather than treat parents as irrelevant or even as enemies (to a truly ‘professional’ approach to ‘education’). And getting parents to feel responsible and involved, rather than holding back in awe of the ‘professionals’.

    Back in the 1980s on the Monterey Peninsula, we faced this problem, and agreeably solved it for our own kid’s education. The local school district then did have one ‘alternative program’ featuring parental involvement and participation, and excellent teachers happy to give their all in this program. (Even then, California state law required school districts to offer such ‘alternative schools’ IF parents demanded them.)

    But a few years later, after we had moved elsewhere, the school district managed to make sure that the program was poorly run. The effect was to dissipate parental interest, and so the district was then able to kill the program (which it eagerly did).

    Ultimately, if meaningful parental involvement is to work and pay the huge positive dividends which it can, at least some of the principals and teachers have to want it to work, and at least some of the parents have to have both the time and the concern to spend some real time and energy.

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