In June, I posted a blog about college going and parent engagement. The posting explored several related topics: fostering student aspirations, involving parents in promoting college going, and ensuring responsiveness to parent and student needs. It also pointed to GEAR UP as an important initiative for increasing college going and providing parents with a different avenue for engagement; specifically, for supporting their students in preparing for college.
Over the next few months the GEAR UP Kentucky project will continue to build school leader participation in a virtual PLC, with a focus on parent engagement. This got me thinking again: What do we mean by parent engagement? I returned to a blog I had read last month authored by Jefferson County Public Schools Board member Debbie Wesslund on ways that the area PTA makes a difference in the lives of students. Titled “From Providing Clothes to Explaining the Common Core, Jefferson County PTA Delivers,” the blog detailed the PTA’s work including at local homeless shelters. PTA members extend their help beyond assuring basic needs are met. They inform parents about Common Core Standards and offer suggestions on how to keep their students engaged in learning as they are facing enormous challenges outside of school. What the blog reminded me is that the PTA represents parent engagement beyond one’s own family to support students and their parents across a broad range of needs. It also reminded me that no matter what their circumstances parents want to be engaged in the education of their students, especially in preparing them for the world beyond school. This video illustrates the idea of parent involvement at the middle school level.
Remembering that parents and educators share a common focus—that is, the academic success of students—lays the groundwork for engaging parents in meaningful ways. Participation in PTA and on site councils is one avenue; support for college going at home is another; and the Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership offered via the Prichard Committee is yet another. It would be great to hear from readers of this blog post your thoughts about meaningful parent engagement.
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