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Re; Parent Involvement For 21st Century

Posted By: Mary Johnson on July 25, 2009
The prevailing parent model haven't work in urban schools with API ranges of 1-3. Parent-U-Turn a Bi-Cultural Parent Group have develop a framework, create by parents in of API- 1-3 students.Parent –U-Turn goal in this section is to improve on Epstein’s model to fit all parents in the 21st century.

Since the majority of schools in urban communities are under performing, one model fix can’t fix all. Due to the lack of funding and resources that exist in urban schools, parents in the nonprofit created seven different Types of Parent Involvement for all parents in the 21st century. This is the first document created by Urban Parents regarding what is needed for parents of color to become advocates for their children. These seven keys help empower parents to make informed decisions on the education, safety, and health of their children. This is the first time that parents of urban students have written a document on engaging parents as equal partners the system with the goal of improving student achievement.

When recasting Joyce Epstein’s six principles, we used her model as a guide. We included principles, which we, as parents of color, believe all parents need in order to successfully move our children beyond high school and into college. These are the seven types (REQUIRED)

Type 1
Access to Information and Data Collection
Parents need to have access to timely and accurate information regarding their child’s education in order to best support their children’s academic success. This includes:

• Parents using, analyzing, and collecting data about their schools
• Parents understanding data and using data that drives reforms
• Parents becoming empowered to investigate and document conditions at their schools by becoming researchers in their own communities.
• Parent access to information about the resources, and rights to support their children.

In Joyce Epstein’s “Six Keys Steps” she doesn’t mention anything regarding data collection. We now live in a data driven society. Type 1 is aligned with the intention of the 2001 NCLB section 1118 and California School Report Card. Research shows that an informed parent is a powerful instrument for social change.

Type 2
Parents In Decision-Making Roles
Parents provide leadership in schools by being at the table with teachers and administrators to:
1) Actively develop policies and be involved in the decisions along with school leadership teams.
2) Ensure that the school has adequate resources and allocates them appropriately to carry out its mission.
3) Provide training and evaluation of school structures, physical and academic
4) Incorporate input from families and the community

This might include:
• Local Advisory Committees with genuine parent participation
• Effective advocacy and education as a direct result of understanding how systems are structured (e.g. how decisions and power are distributed between schools, staff, parents and students)
• Providing parents with knowledge, skills, and opportunities to be actively engage them in all levels of the decision-making process
• Representation of parents on the school decision-making teams
• Develop a parent workshops team to integral input from families and community and establish benchmarks.

In recasting Type 2, Joyce Epstein addressed decision-making in her six keys. However, it was too general, and lacked content or suggestion on what it should look like in practice. It left too much open to interpretation. This left too much up to the school district to determine what it should look like.

Our Type 2 actually correlates to Joyce Epstein’s Type 5, “Decision Making: including families as participants in school decisions, governance, and advocacy through PTA/PTO, school councils, committees, and other parent organizations.”

Type 3
Parents as Student Advocates
Parents need to know how to navigate and negotiate the school system. We need to support the creation of an environment where parents have access to information and support systems to be effective advocates by monitoring and directing the education of our children. This includes:
• Parents need to know what children need, how to access resources and how to implement a plan of action.
• Parents need to understand a “power map” detailing the functions and structures of the system. Parents need to understand and be able to communicate in an educational setting, using terms spoken by educational professionals.
• Parents need to identify the areas of training and services needed.

The recasting of Type 3 content wasn’t addressed in the six keys that the State of California adopted. Parents need to know how to engage grades K-12 if they are going to be public participants in their children’s education. Only when parents know the rules of engagement, can they hold the system accountable.

Type 4
Parent Leaders at Home and in the School-Community
Parents need opportunities to build leadership and advocacy skills to enhance student-parent-community partnerships. Schools will serve the family and community needs for health and social service and provide resources and information for accessing those services:
• Parents will learn intergenerational and cross-cultural communication strategies, with a special emphasis on immigrant families.
• Parents will learn “twenty-first century parenting skills” such as how to develop boundaries, parent-child communication, identify risk factors- drugs, gang involvement, etc.)
• Parents will understand the college requirement and financial aid process.
• Leadership training will be offered that will include meeting facilitation, public speaking, conflict resolution and cross cultural training
• Communications training for parents will be more effective in navigating their children through K-12 and to college.
• Parents receive on-going support and technical assistance to equip them for effective participation.

Joyce Epstein did discuss parent roles, but it was limited in content. There was a need to expand content beyond homework to address urban parents’ needs. Parents in urban schools need equal resources in the area of gang, drug, and criminal activities that go beyond basic parenting skills.

Our Type 4 correlates to Joyce Epstein’s Type 1 , “PARENTING: Assisting families with parenting and child-rearing skills, understanding child and adolescent development, and setting home conditions that support children as students at each age and grade level. Assisting schools in understanding families.”

Type 5
Effective Two –Way Communication
• Communication must be translated in languages that parents speak in their home.
• Communication between home and school is regular, two-way, and meaningful.
• There is a need to have computerized machines, newsletters, personal contact, letters/flyers and a marquee.
• Parent Liaison roles include helping bridge the open communication between school and home and helping to create effective home/ school relationships.
• Parent Liaisons will have the ability to work with all races of people.

We enhanced and expanded on Type 5 because a major stakeholder was left out of the two-way communication. This was the Parent Liaison role that is the key to fostering relationships with parents and open communication between schools and communities.

Our Type 5 correlates to Joyce Epstein’s Type –2, “COMMUNICATING: Communicate with families about school programs and student progress through effective school-to-home and home-to-school communications.”

Type 6
District Level Support
Structures are provided to build parent capacity that is well-defined, meaningful participation where dialogue, empowerment and action are critical components of educational reform. This mid-level structure will be fully funded and led by parent councils that will:

• Provide parents with training and capacity building opportunities to effectively engage in school reform at the local and district level.
• Provide parents with information and resources to meet the needs of the whole child.
• Enable parents to support students and schools programs.
• Create opportunities for collaboration in providing training and services jointly with parents such as in areas of: college fair, parenting classes. School leadership and PLC’s.

Also, it very important that there be support at the District Level. We are looking at the district with a critical eye. We are hoping to see the District develop a forum that is led by parents, as we can’t continue with the status quo. There are many people in high places that are still limited in their perception of parent involvement. Parents at the district level need authentic roles that look similar to the ones describe in appendix:

Please see the attached appendix

Type 7
Friendly Schools Atmosphere
Schools will post welcome signs throughout the school in many languages including English. The staff of each school will provide mandatory customer service every year for the entire school. Parents will be asked to fill out a survey on services rendered.

A friendly school atmosphere was also left out of the six keys that were adopted by the State of California. The number one complaint in urban schools from parents is that the school staff is rude and unfriendly. This is the major reason parents stop participating or volunteering at local schools.

Posted By: Mary Johnson, Practitioner
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 Parent Involvement Models That Work in Urban Public Schools by Carmen Restaino on February 28, 2001
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