Kim Hunt works as a Business Development Representative for Edmentum and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Kim has worked as a parent voice on educational initiatives throughout Massachusetts and the nation.
Parent involvement is being recognized more and more by our educational leaders and legislators as a tool to improve education and parents are recognized as a very strong and powerful voice. Recently, while I attended a National PTA board meeting, Dr. Jill Biden addressed the board and thanked us for supporting military families and being a strong voice for parents. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, as well as other top administrators, addressed our group of parent and teacher leaders and encouraged us to continue to fight for our children. In these tough economic times, now more than ever, we need to work together to make sure that our kids not only graduate, but are also ready for college, career, and beyond. On the final day of this conference, we all visited Capitol Hill and met with our state legislators to express the importance of parent involvement and funding for education.
We know how important it is for parents to be involved in their children’s education, but why is it important and how can we as parents and educators ensure that this is done in the most effective and constructive way possible?
The first question we need to answer is what is parent involvement? The No Child Left Behind law defines parental involvement as, “the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities including:
• Assisting their child’s learning;
• Being actively involved in their child’s education at school;
• Serving as full partners in their child’s education and being included, as appropriate, in decision-making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child; and
• The carrying out of other activities such as those described in section 1118 of the ESEA.”
The National PTA’s definition takes it a step further by adding that involvement must be more than a onetime event, it must be consistent participation. Families should be engaged in tasks such as setting standards and school restructuring.
The National PTA recommends that Title 1 funds for parent involvement be increased from 1% to 2% in the reauthorization of ESEA. If your child or child’s school is not performing, parents need to know exactly why, what is being done, and what options are available.
One of the biggest obstacles for parents who want to be involved is time. Many families have two working parents or one parent that is juggling family and working sometimes more than one job to make ends meet. Many parents will say to me, “I don’t have time to be involved. I work and have so many other responsibilities that I cannot possibly be involved in my child’s education.” My response to them is that there are many facets to parent involvement. Most parents are not aware of exactly how involved they could be or how involved they already are.
National PTA has developed the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, a tool for empowering people to work together with the goal of building family-school partnerships. There are six standards that include Welcoming All Families, Communicating Effectively, Supporting Student Success, Speaking up for Every Child, Sharing Power and Collaborating with Community. Many States now have Family Involvement policies, standards or fundamentals. A majority of them are based on PTA’s National Standards. For more detailed information please click here.