Friday, October 24, 2008

Parent Engagement Tuesdays

On the October "Start a New Post" Kathy Fine wrote:

I attended my first "parent engagement" meeting at Phillips k-5 on the Southside. What I got from this meeting is that the crux of the "parent engagement" strategy from the district is that parents at each of these meetings are responsible for going back to their homes schools to encourage volunteerism and parent involvement in their children's school performance (assistance with homework, good nutrition/sleep habits, reading to children, etc).
I question how parents are going to be able to do this. When will they see other parents to spread the word regarding involvement? Are parents really expected to challenge other parents regarding behavior at home?

My vision of encouraging "parent involvement" is very different. If we really want to reach the parents that are not currently engaged, we need a much more aggressive methodology. How about having parent engagement taking place once or twice a month at each and every school in the district, so that it is much more accessible to parents without transportation? Tout these meetings as "free dinner for the family with free child care". Have varying topics such as "reading to your child", "homework help", etc. Use the Harlem Children's Zone model and make an aggressive attempt (phone calls, fliers door to door) to spread the word. The current methods of parent engagement is targeting the same parents that are engaged anyway! We need methods that will reach the parents that are not currently engaged and whose children will benefit the most from increased involvement.

10 comments:

Questioner said...

PURE Reform's report from this meeting is posted on the Announcements Page under the October 21 announcement of this meeting- click on "REPORT OF PURE Reform REPRESENTATIVE."

justaparent said...

PSCC meetings are held monthly at every school. What attracts parents is a good MATH NIGHT, or a meeting about an EIGHTH GRADE TRIP. District level PE suffers poor turnout because in order to do some of the things mentioned in purereform's report on the PE Tuesdays YOU GOTTA BE HOME. I think a good indicator on parent interest will be the turnout at individual buildings on the Promise Nights. If these events prove to be a big draw that is what the PE strategy should be, meetings with one focus, advertised well in advance. To be fair, there are some schools who hit the ball out of the park on parent engagement activities. My info may not be current, but at least a couple years ago ATA and Montessouri were often mentioned as schools worthy of leading the way to successful PE. In my own experience, a good principal can present the same info as a superintendent and make it more meaningful at the school level.

Anonymous said...

as a veteran of PE in PPS and a Mom with PPS grads I can tell you a lot of what you mentioned has been done over the years. Child care and training to help parents help their kid improve was pretty common.

Some of what I read in the report made me smile. A lot of the same advice given I heard years ago. READ TO YOUR CHILD, should really be replaced with LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD READ OUT LOUD. This will give you a better idea of how he is doing in school.

Anonymous said...

Why is all of the parent engagement aimed at younger kids? Do our high school kids not need their parents anymore? Have we given up on them? I understand that it is a vicious cycle: high school parents aren't involved, so the high school staff doesn't expect or plan for involvement, so the few parents who do want to remain involved get the impression that they are not wanted and on and on . . .

Kathy Fine said...

From the comments regarding my post regarding parent engagement, it is apparent that there are many interpretations of what "parent engagement" is, all of them correct. But what I was addressing was what I see as one of the major areas of concern in our public schools; the ever looming achievement gap and how address it. So my comments regarding parent engagement speak to the large percentage of under served or at risk students in our schools whose parents are not engaged in their children's schooling. What the Harlem Model demonstrates is that you can run programs but if you do not get the targeted population to attend, the programs do little good. That's why in the Harlem model, outreach is paramount and door to door solicitation is common. I realize that we have some very hard working principals pushing for this engagement, but we need a comprehensive, district wide push and I don't believe that the methods being utilized in the current PE meetings are going to address this specific population of parents.

Questioner said...

I think we also need to keep in mind those students who are not at risk, esp as someone else pointed out, in HS- and find ways to involve parents to help these students to achieve at the highest level- or else more and more of these families will peel off to other options.

Anonymous said...

In the Harlem model, parents of infants and toddlers are targeted for intervention by the outreach workers. The parents in the charter school are "already there" by selection bias, as they have signed up for this school. According to Heckman's phenomenal meta-analysis, the most cost-effective way to affect educational outcomes is to change parenting behavior as it relates to children ages zero to three. For example, talk to babies and children, sit on the floor and play with them, sing to them, praise them for curiosity, take them places and explain everything, let them play with old fashioned toys like blocks and shape sorters and finger paints, do not physically punish them and TURN OFF THE TV! This is what Geoffrey Canada teaches parents in his eight week "Baby College" course in the Harlem Children's Zone. Until we can reach the parents of infants and toddlers, we will be playing a very expensive game of catch-up. Once the parents are engaged at this level, it is imperative to keep them engaged.

Questioner said...

I think there would be tremendous community support for a program like this. It would seem that in the $500 million per year school budget something could be cut in favor of this type of program, maybe with matching funds from the city.

justaparent said...

This topic is so huge it may need to be broken down into categories each with their own post. For example, anonymous at 10:00 a.m.
mentions the high school here and now lack of PE. And we are talking too about ages zero to three?

I also know what kids want and will tolerate changes as the kids move to higher grades. In elementary school kids are happy when a parent works the book fair or chaparones a field trip. In the middle grades most kids do not want to be seen with a parent let alone have her chaparone a dance. In high school Many Many kids would rather everyone think they had their own apartments and their parents live out-of-state. Really, is there any parent out there who has not been asked by a kid,"You're not leaving the house in those shoes are you?"

For a lot of us, the biggest roadblock to PE in high school is the kid we send to school each day. Still it is doable. Lots of parents of band kids and cheerleaders and kids of sports teams make a group of involved parents. Could the HS trick be to make sure every student has an extracurricular? Not any easy task considering most of our students take public transportation to and from school.

justaparent said...

Regarding the achievement gap and the students less well-served by PE efforts. There was a meeting of Title I parents held in June at Frick. This was not a building meeting but a district meeting. During the meeting a Mom shared a flyer she had gotten from a community organization describing the details of the achievement gap and the low graduation rate for several areas of the city including the hill. The school district did not create the flyer apparently, but did provide some of the information cited on the flyer. The tone of the flyer was severe and it was meant to stir outrage and action. Only time and grades will tell if it started people thinking and becoming more involved in the PE that takes place in the home.