Guess Who's Getting Engaged!

by Jeff Camp | March 30, 2016 | 0 Comments
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The New Push for Family Engagement

A bit of money from Washington, some pressure from Sacramento, and a big push from the PTA are fueling efforts to increase family engagement in schools.

Family engagement is a strong predictor of student success. Getting parents involved in their kids' education can be a cost-effective strategy for schools to improve results. But getting these programs right is a HUGE challenge.

Many families do not know best practices to help their children. Many parents work multiple jobs and have limited time. Many do not speak English. Even for the most sophisticated parent, understanding California’s education system is pretty darn complicated.

A carrot from Washington, a stick from Sacramento

Top-down efforts to boost family engagement are getting some traction. The state of California now requires family and community input as part of the process for each district's annual Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). The new Federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires school districts to set aside at least one percent of the Federal funding they receive through Title I for parent and family engagement activities. Most of this money must go directly to schools. Parents and family members of low-income students must be included in decisions on how this is spent.

Additionally, there may be funding for Family Engagement Centers to provide training on parent education and family-school partnerships.

Opportunity in Sacramento?

Understanding the close connection between student achievement and family engagement, the California State PTA is sponsoring a bill, AB 2680 (Bonilla). The idea is to use one-time money in the state budget as seed money to help develop family engagement plans and to identify best practices.

This is timely. The success of the new education funding system in California — LCFF for those who like acronyms — relies heavily on informed community input. Training at the school and district levels can help parents, students and families become informed leaders. But even more important, it can help parents as their children’s first and most important teachers — and then encourage parents to advocate for a quality education for their child and for all children.

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