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Highlights: About the Forum | Panel 1 | Panel 2 | Panel 3 | Panel 4 | Closing Session

Panel 4: What are the opportunities for engaging families in turning around low-performing schools?

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Transcript of the video: I think the idea that I would suggest that we all keep in mind is the importance of listening to what parents and students have to say about their needs and about what direction that our schools should be following.  Too often we forget to say what do you think and what do you need.  And I believe that that’s the first place we should begin in all of our communications around school change and turning schools around. -- Catherine Jordan, Program Manager, Afterschool, Family, and Community, SEDL

The relationships between families and schools in under-resourced, low-performing areas are often fraught with tension and mistrust. Rebuilding positive connections between families and the schools that serve their students is a necessary component of successful turnaround efforts, yet families often complain that they are not involved in reform efforts until after decisions have been made about how to transform a low-performing school—decisions that do not always take into account local families’ needs and concerns.
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Transcript of the video: To have a true partnership means I have confidence in what you’re doing.  And parent shows confidence the way that they feel about the school, not only the way they talk about their teacher, the way they praise and talk about their principal, and they talk about ownership and say, my school. And when you can start hearing parents saying my school, then you’re going to have a school that is going to start to doing turn-around because now they feel as though –- and I’m a parent of six children, and out of my six children I now still have three that are in school.  I have an 11th grader, a 12th grader, and a 9th grader.  So you can see I’m still very much involved.  And by being in their school, I have to feel ownership.  I have to feel a buy-in.  I have to feel confidence.  I have to feel as though my opinion counts.  And if my opinion counts, then I know that we’re all on the same level. -- Minnie Pearce-Tate, Parent Representative and Parent/Community Engagement Consultant, National Coalition of ESEA Title I Parents

Attending to families’ and communities’ strengths and capacities, as well as their needs and concerns—all of which affect a school’s functioning—help to ensure that proposed turnaround strategies are actually addressing the complex issues that contributed to the school’s chronic low performance. And just as importantly, rather than simply notifying parents about what direction turnaround efforts will take, parents need to be engaged from the beginning in decision making around instruction, staffing, and how the school is organized. The more that parents are involved in these critical components of education reform initiatives, the more likely they are to feel a sense of ownership over the school and efforts to improve student achievement.
Watch the video that accompanies the above text.

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Transcript of the video: We had another school where the parents were mostly Spanish speaking.  And there were no Spanish books.  And they kept –- the teachers kept saying, read to your kid, read to your kid. It doesn’t matter what language you read to your kid, but there’s no -— you know, no books in the library.  You -– where do you buy a Spanish book to read to -– no. So, what happened is they -– that was their thing.  We want a library.  The school said we have no money.  So they organized to do a tamale sale to, you know, fundraise.  They learned how to fundraise in order to go buy books. It’s an empowerment model.  And I will tell you that in this new sort of paradigm of the realization of the establishment that parental involvement is the flour of the making the cake. The question is how are the schools going to make the cake.  And will the school districts –- will the establishment -– will the state government, federal government give them the resources so they can buy the flour to start making the cake. -- Antonia Hernández, President and Chief Executive Officer at the California Community Foundation

There is also a need to increase parents’ capacity for advocacy so they’re empowered to understand and demand the change their student’s school needs. Informed, targeted, and meaningful family engagement constitutes a vital component of successful education reform efforts. Returning to the cake-baking metaphor from the beginning of these video highlights, Antonia Hernández, President and Chief Executive Officer at the California Community Foundation, argued that the establishment of meaningful parent engagement is the “flour” of that education reform cake.
Watch the video that accompanies the above text.

Highlights: About the Forum | Panel 1 | Panel 2 | Panel 3 | Panel 4 | Closing Session



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This policy forum is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education's Parental Information and Resource Center program. The content of this policy forum does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education.