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Group Research Project Fall 2004

Mandatory Parent Involvement

Pearlyvene Boston

Gonsalo Garay

David Riddick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Hayashi

LEGAL SCHL ADMIN / ELPS 663

11/23/2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statement of the Issue

 

"When schools work together with families to support learning,

children tend to succeed not just in school, but throughout life"

- Anne T. Henderson and Nancy Berla,

The Family Is Critical to Student Achievement

 

Research shows that family involvement, not income or social status, is the most accurate predictor of student achievement in school.  Solid research indicates when schools work with parents, student grades and test scores improve, attendance increases, and high school graduation and college attendance rates improve. 

 

Mandatory Parent Involvement is the Future

It is a matter of time before local school districts establish a process whereby each parent or guardian of a pupil is obligated to enter into a school-parent compact that will commit the parent or guardian to develop a partnership with their school to help their child achieve the Nation’s high standards. 

 

Importance of Parental Involvement

·         Parents and guardians are the first and most enduring teachers of a child.  Parents play a crucial role in the development of a child in the formative years. 

·         Schools across the nation and in California have found that parent compacts increase successful parent involvement in the education of their children.

·         The Federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 requires every school district that receives Title 1 funds to adopt a written parent involvement policy.  This policy is required to be developed jointly with, approved by, and distributed to parents of participating children and the local community.

·         California’s Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education has recommended that schools establish and maintain explicit compacts for active meaningful partnerships that make parents and parent groups full partners in the education of their children.

·         In any school accountability system, parent involvement is a critical element.

 

Research on Parental Involvement

Three decades of research have shown that parental participation in schooling improves student learning. Such participation of parents and families is critical not only in the very beginning of the educational process, but throughout a child's entire academic career.

 

National Trends of Parental Involvement

Parental involvement in school is measured by attendance at a general meeting, a meeting with a teacher, or a school event, and by volunteering or serving on a committee. In 1999, 78 percent of students in kindergarten through twelfth grade had parents who attended a general meeting, 73 percent had parents who attended a scheduled meeting with a teacher, and 65 percent had parents who attended a school event. Only 37 percent of students had parents who volunteered in school or served on a committee. Ninety-two percent of students had parents who participated in at least one of these activities. These levels of participation in 1999 were about the same as they were in 1996.

 

Parental Involvement by Grade

Parents are most likely to attend school meetings and events or to volunteer in their child's school when their children are in primary school. Their participation rates are lower when their children are in middle school, and lowest when their children are in high school. For example, in 1999, 88 percent of elementary school students had parents who attended a meeting with their teachers, while 70 percent of middle school students and 51 percent of high school students had parents who had done so. While 48 percent of elementary school students had parents who volunteered in school or served on a committee, only 29 and 26 percent of middle and high school students, respectively, had parents who had done so.

 

Parental Involvement by Race and Ethnicity

Differences by race and Hispanic origin were small or non-existent in the percentage of students whose parents attended meetings, whether they were general meetings or scheduled meetings with teachers. However, Hispanic and non-Hispanic black students were less likely to have parents who attended school events or who volunteered their time than were non-Hispanic white students. Fifty-one percent of Hispanic students and 54 percent of non-Hispanic black students had parents who attended school events, while 72 percent of non-Hispanic white students had parents who had done so. About one-fourth of non-Hispanic black and Hispanic students had parents who volunteered their time, compared with 43 percent of non-Hispanic white students.

 

Parental Involvement by Educational Background and Income

Parents with higher levels of education and income are more likely to be involved in their children's school. In 1999, 97 percent of students whose parents had a Bachelor's degree or above had parents who were involved in their school, compared with 76 percent of students whose parents had less than a high school education. Likewise, 96 percent of students living in households with incomes over $50,000 had parents who were involved in their school, compared with 84 percent of students living in households with incomes of $10,000 or less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommendation for a New Policy

 

The purpose of our proposed policy is to establish a mandatory parent involvement policy for parents/guardians of children in grades K-5.  At the beginning of each year, parents/guardians are to sign a school-parent compact that will commit the parent or guardian to assist and cooperate with the educational process of his or her child.

 

For purposes of this section, a “compact” means a written commitment by a parent or guardian to share responsibility for pupil learning.  The manner in which the school and parents or guardians of pupils shall help pupils to achieve academic and other standards of the school include, but not limited to, the following:

·         Make sure their child is ready to learn when he or she arrives at school.

·         Monitor attendance and amount of television viewing.

·         Provide regular time, place, and supervision for homework completion.

·         Volunteering, participating, or observing in son’s/daughter’s classroom and/or school.

·         Attend school-parent meetings.

·         Familiarizing themselves with state and district academic standards for each grade and subject area.

·         Communicating with teachers.

·         Supporting other positive parent responsibilities related to successful pupil learning at school.

 

There is no dispute that parental involvement is critical to child development and vitally important to child learning.  Public education is a governmental enterprise and has a fundamental role to the greater population in educating and preparing its youth for the complex world that awaits them.  There is a delicate balance between the state’s interest in ensuring that students receive a rigorous education and the parental rights of parents to raise their children.  Because education is a public and a private good, courts have overwhelmingly upheld the state’s interest in preparing children for citizenship and cultivating a skilled workforce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laws Applying to Mandatory Parental Involvement

 

State and Federal legislators have recognized education is a public and a private good.  Legislators, educators, and policy makers have concluded parental involvement is a critical element to student learning and becoming citizens in the Republic.  Courts have upheld the state has a vital interest and a responsibility to educate society for the good of the greater population. 

 

Overall, courts have ruled in favor of the state versus parent objections in cases ranging from compulsory attendance, determining appropriate public discourse, and mandatory school uniform policies.

 

The schools, as instruments of the state, are responsible for educating the youth for citizenship and maintaining the democratic political system.  Nothing in the Constitution prohibits the states from insisting parents enter into a mandatory school-parent compact.

 

Federal Legislation 

·         2002 - According to the No Child Left Behind Act signed into law by President Bush January 8, 2002, every school district in America that receives Title 1 funds and every school that receives Title 1 dollars is to develop jointly with parents a school-parent compact that outlines how parents, school staff, and students will share responsibility for ensuring improved student achievement. The compact must also outline how schools and parents will work together to help Title I students achieve the high content and performance standards set by the state for all students.

·         Title 1 states the compact must do a number of things:

1.       Describe the school's responsibility to provide high quality curriculum and instruction in a supportive and effective environment, which will enable students to meet the state standards.

2.       Describe how parents will be responsible for supporting their child's learning. Examples given in the law are monitoring whether children have finished their homework and how much television children watch.

3.       Address the importance of communication between teachers and parents. Schools will be required to provide at least:

o        Parent-teacher conferences in elementary schools, at least once a year, when parents and teachers will discuss the compact as it relates to an individual child's achievement.

o        Frequent reports to parents on their children's progress

o        Reasonable access to staff and to classrooms to observe activities

The No Child Left Behind Act does not mandate parents to sign or take part in school-parent compacts.  However, the language in the Act allows for a local district to develop a mandatory parent involvement policy, describing how parents will be responsible for supporting their child’s needs.

 

California Legislation

California Codes

Education Code

Section 51100 - 51101

Rights of parents and guardians of pupils; School-parent compact

 

The California Education Code acknowledges the importance of parental involvement in student achievement.  Similar to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the Education code does not mandate parent involvement.  On the other hand, the code allows local districts and schools to develop their own school-parent compacts.  The code does not state if this policy should be mandatory or voluntarily agreed upon.  The only mandate is for the local districts and schools to create a policy with parents.

 

Section 5110 states that parental involvement has been shown to improve student achievement and efforts must be made to collaborate with parents and guardians.

51100.  The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
   (a) It is essential to our democratic form of government that parents and guardians of schoolage children attending public schools and other citizens participate in improving public education institutions.  Specifically, involving parents and guardians of pupils in the education process is fundamental to a healthy system of public education.
   (b) Research has shown conclusively that early and sustained
family involvement at home and at school in the education of children results both in improved pupil achievement and in schools that are successful at educating all children, while enabling them to achieve high levels of performance.
   (c) All participants in the education process benefit when schools genuinely welcome, encourage, and guide families into establishing equal partnerships with schools to support pupil learning.
   (d) Family and school collaborative efforts are most effective when they involve parents and guardians in a variety of roles at all grade levels, from preschool through high school.
 
Section 51101 states parents have the right to be involved in the education of their children.  Each governing board of a school district must develop with parents a policy that outlines the manner in which parents/guardians, school staff, and pupils share in the responsibility of a pupil’s intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development.
51101.  (a) Except as provided in subdivision (d), the parents and guardians of pupils enrolled in public schools have the right and should have the opportunity, as mutually supportive and respectful partners in the education of their children within the public schools, to be informed by the school, and to participate in the education of their children, as follows:
 
   (3) To volunteer their time and resources for the improvement of school facilities and school programs under the supervision of district employees, including, but not limited to, providing assistance in the classroom with the approval, and under the direct supervision, of the teacher.  Although volunteer parents may assist with instruction, primary instructional responsibility shall remain with the teacher.
 
(b) In addition to the rights described in subdivision (a), parents and guardians of pupils, including those parents and guardians whose primary language is not English, shall have the opportunity to work together in a mutually supportive and respectful partnership with schools, and to help their children succeed in school.  Each governing board of a school district shall develop jointly with parents and guardians, and shall adopt, a policy that outlines the manner in which parents or guardians of pupils, school staff, and pupils may share the responsibility for continuing the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development and well-being of pupils at each schoolsite.  The policy shall include, but is not necessarily limited to, the following: 
   (1) The means by which the school and parents or guardians of pupils may help pupils to achieve academic and other standards of the school.
   (2) A description of the school's responsibility to provide a high quality curriculum and instructional program in a supportive and effective learning environment that enables all pupils to meet the academic expectations of the school.
   (3) The manner in which the parents and guardians of pupils may support the learning environment of their children, including, but not limited to, the following:
   (A) Monitoring attendance of their children.
   (B) Ensuring that homework is completed and turned in on a timely basis.
   (C) Participation of the children in extracurricular activities.
   (D) Monitoring and regulating the television viewed by their children.
   (E) Working with their children at home in learning activities that extend learning in the classroom.
   (F) Volunteering in their children's classrooms, or for other activities at the school.
   (G) Participating, as appropriate, in decisions relating to the education of their own child or the total school program.
   (c) All schools that participate in the High Priority Schools Grant Program established pursuant to Article 3.5 (commencing with Section 52055.600) of Chapter 6.1 of Part 28 and that maintain kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 5, inclusive, shall jointly develop with parents or guardians for all children enrolled at that school site, a school-parent compact pursuant to Section 6319 of Title 20 of the United States Code.
   (d) This section does not authorize a school to inform a parent or guardian, as provided in this section, or to permit participation by a parent or guardian in the education of a child, if it conflicts with a valid restraining order, protective order, or order for custody or visitation issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.
 

California Assembly Bill 33 – Nell Soto (D- Los Angeles) 1999

This Bill signified the importance legislators found on increasing parent involvement by allocating $20,000,000 from the State General Fund to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to implement the teacher home visitation program.   The following are requirements participating schools shall do in order to qualify for the designated funds:  

  1. Fifty percent of all teachers at the school must voluntarily agree to make periodic home visits to their students (at least once per year).
  2. Fifty percent of all parents at the school must sign a parent/teacher/pupil compact.  The compact states that parents not only agree to home visits but will also encompass the state parent involvement policy.
  3. Teachers who "voluntarily" make home visits shall receive additional pay at the same rate as their regular base salary for their efforts.

 

Federal and State Legal Cases

 

State and Federal Courts have overwhelming ruled in favor of the state against cases facing parental objection.  These case range from compulsory attendance, determining appropriate public discourse, and mandatory school uniform policies.  Public education is a private and a public good, which supercedes parental objections. The educational deprivation of a child not only impacts the child and his/her family, but society as a whole.

 

Pierce v. Society of Sisters

Supreme Court of the United States, 1925

268 U.S. 510

Pierce v. Society of Sisters established compulsory attendance in the United States.  Prior to the Compulsory Education Act of 1922 parents may have felt they had the liberty as parents to decide if their children would attend school   The Compulsory Education Act of 1922 tried to require parents or guardians to send children between the ages of eight and sixteen to public school in the district where the children resided.  Under this Act private schooling and home schooling would have been outlawed.  The Act tried to make the education of children the sole responsibility of the state forcing students to accept instruction from public teachers only.

 

The unanimous Court held that the Compulsory Education Act of 1922 was against parental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.  The law did not include, but excluded parental involvement.  From 1922, the Supreme Court began to recognize the importance of parental involvement in preparing children for our democratic society.

The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.

 

This decision laid the foundation for schools and school districts to develop parental involvement policies.  A mandatory school-parent compact would fall under the phrase “high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.

 

Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser

Supreme Court of the United States, 1986

478 U.S. 675

Fraser’s father sued Bethel School District arguing that the school did not have the right to penalize his son for an offensive speech delivered at a school assembly.  Fraser’s contention was that his son had the right of free speech under the First Amendment.  Fraser sighted the Tinker Doctrine and claimed his son has the right of political freedom of expression, and the school does not have the legal right to mandate Fraser’s speech. 

 

Supreme Court reversed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and ruled the First Amendment does not keep schools from deciding what speech and behavior is acceptable.  The Court ruled public schools have a duty to instill moral values and encourage public civility.

 

Inescapably, like parents, they are role models.  The schools, as instruments of the state, may determine that the essential lessons of civil, mature conduct cannot be conveyed in a school that tolerates lewd, indecent, or offensive speech...

 

Fraser gave school officials latitude and more control in determining what type of behavior will be permitted by students.  In addition, Fraser identified an important connection that exists between parents and teachers.  Families and educators have the responsibility to foster and educate youth for the purpose of maintaining a democratic political system. 

 

United States v. O’Brien,

391 U.S. 367 1968

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1968 decision on draft-card burning, is often used to determine whether a school dress code is constitutional.  Parents who oppose Uniform Policies claim these mandatory laws violate their parental rights to teach their children to be non-conformists, free-thinkers, and a respect for individuality.  Courts have often applied the O’Brien Test as a rational basis to decide if the parents fundamental liberties have been violated.  The O’Brien Test may also be used to scrutinize the violation of parental rights in a mandatory school-parent compact.

Under the O’Brien test a uniform policy is constitutional if it:

  1. Is authorized under state law.
  2. Advances an important government interest.
  3. Is not related to the suppression of free expression.
  4. Only incidentally restricts free expression in a minimal fashion.

 

Mandatory parent involvement meets this criterion.  A mandatory school-parent compact is authorized under state law, advances an important government interest, and only incidentally restricts free expression in a minimal fashion.  Courts have generally sided with the state’s interest in furthering legitimate educational goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis of Legal Arguments for Both Sides of

Mandatory Parental Involvement

 

 

It is merely a matter of time before a school district mandates a signature on a school-parent compact and a parent sues over their fundamental right to be as involved in their child’s education as they see fit.  A parent may argue this school-parent compact violates their civil liberties.  The court has recognized that parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of their children.  However, Courts have overwhelmingly noted this is not an absolute right and must be weighed against the state’s responsibility to educate students for citizenship in a democratic society.

 

When it comes to mandatory parent involvement, there are mixed feelings involved.  There are the parents who are dedicated and willing to commit to whatever it takes to ensure their child’s future success and there are those who swear they are doing their best, that’s all they can do, and no one should be able to look down on them or demand more.  They say that they have to work all day and earn a living, and there is no way they can be involved all the time and make ends meet.  They also say that one cannot legislate their regulations and behaviors, their rights are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.  Schools may be able to regulate student speech during a school assembly as in Bethel v. Fraser.  However, one may argue they have nether the jurisdiction nor the duty to mandate parental responsibilities.  As citizens in our Republic, do we have the right of choice?  In Roe v. Wade (1973), the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a private matter.  Citizens have control over their bodies.  The state has no right to force mandatory policies, parental involvement is a private matter.  Do parents have the right to raise their children without the state’s imposed policies?

 

The Washington Supreme Court held a parental consent form to be against public policy in Wagenblast v. Odessa School District No.l 105-157—166j, 758 P.2d 968 (Wash. 1988).  This case did not involve mandatory parent involvement, however it did involve a school-parent compact.  The School District required students and their parents to sign a release of all potential future claims and suits as a condition to student participation in certain school-related activities such as interscholastic athletics.  The Court ruled this compact was against public policy because it was the intentional waiving of a suit to recover damages for subsequent negligent supervision.  The district policy forced the parents to sign a compact that violated public policy.  Currently, there is no public policy or law mandating parental involvement.

 

Consider the O’Brien test from U.S. v. O’Brien (1968).  Parents could argue state law does not authorize mandatory parental involvement.  This policy would stretch the law, and violate parental rights and liberties.  Parents could challenge if it indeed does advance an important government interest.  Research done on parental involvement is based on willing parents to help their child.  There is inconclusive research on the effects of student learning when parents are forced to be involved.  Similar to the National Draft of citizens in the military, drafted parents may not achieve the states intended purpose of maintaining a democratic political system.

 

On the other hand, in the Supreme Court case of 1925, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Court acknowledged the role parents have in empowering our young citizens to learn.  However, it is the government that requires parents to make sure their children all get an education, whether the parents want it or not.  When education is inadequate, then the nation, the state, the school must assert in the case for our children and provide opportunities for those children to learn. Mandating parent involvement is one of those opportunities.  It also emphasizes the need to involve society in the education system.  To improve our society, we need to bring about quality education for all.  Mandating parents to be involved in their school will impact society because it will change the cultural script we have for education.

 

We have considered that parents or guardians may find it difficult to be involved in the school due to work obligation.   This is a public concern.  The public will need to work together to encourage and make it profitable for the work place to release parents with pay to volunteer at their schools.  This will take many hours of lobbying for appropriate funds.   Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), an employer must accommodate the religious beliefs of an employee or an applicant unless it imposes an “undue hardship” on the conduct of the employer’s business.  Many employers use paid-time off plans (or PTO plans) to accommodate employees’ religious observances.  This policy may call for an amendment to this act to include volunteering at a child’s school.  Another resolution is to allow parents to supplement their civil obligation of serving on a jury with volunteering at their child’s school.

 

The schools, as instruments of the state, are responsible for educating the youth for citizenship and maintaining the democratic political system.  Because studies have shown that students do better when parents are involved in schools, then a well-educated populace will most likely bring about a strong economy, global security and democracy.  This is the ultimate goal of public education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Policy Regarding Parent Involvement

“The evidence is now beyond dispute. 

When parents are involved in their children’s education…

children do better in school.”

-Henderson & Berla

 

 

On the national level, the recent No Child Left Behind Act includes sections that outline parent participation.  The Secretary of Education along with the Department of Education have developed pamphlets and guides that support schools in establishing productive parent involvement programs.  The recent national elections and debates saw both candidates repeatedly refer to the importance of active parent participation. 

 

On the state level, California has added sections to its Education Code that discuss the role of parent involvement in schools.  Two parent conferences per year are now mandated by the state.  Parent contracts and compacts are the norm in most schools.  Some states, like Arkansas, are now requiring that each school must establish a parental involvement program.  Furthermore, the state has outlined standards for these programs.

 

On the local level, districts are following in the footsteps of the state and nation.  The L.A.U.S.D. has implemented policies that describe the levels of parent involvement.  Districts encourage parent associations at the school site.  Parents are no longer viewed as outsiders, but as integral players in the educational process.  Learn School Communities have been established and have maximized the role of parents in all areas of the school, including school governance.

 

One of the most complete and extensive surveys of research on parental involvement in schools is a series of publications conducted by Anne Henderson and Nancy Berla: The Evidence Grows (1981); The Evidence Continues to Grow (1987); and A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement (1995).  With more than 85 studies in the research project, these publications detail and support the conclusion that parental involvement in the educational process has profound benefits for student achievement, school wide success, and the community in general.  Some of the findings include: 

 

·         When parents are involved, students achieve more, regardless of socio-economic status, ethnic-racial background, or the parent’s educational level

·         The more extensive the parent involvement, the higher the student achievement

·         Students whose parents are involved have higher graduation rates and greater enrollment rates in post-secondary institutions

·         Different types of parent involvement produce different gains.  To have long lasting gains for students, parent involvement activities must be well planned, inclusive, and comprehensive

·         Educators hold higher expectations of students whose parents collaborate with the teacher

·         Student behaviors, such as alcohol use, violence, and antisocial behavior decrease as parent involvement increases

·         The benefits involving parents are not confined to the early years; there are significant gains at all ages and grade levels

·         The most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status, but the extent to which that student’s family is able to (1) create a home environment that encourages learning; (2) communicates high, yet reasonable, expectations for their children’s achievement and future careers; and (3) become involved in their children’s education at school and in the community

·         Children from diverse cultural backgrounds tend to do better when parents and professionals collaborate to bridge the gap between the culture at home and the learning institution

 

 

Understanding the fundamental connection between student achievement and active parent involvement in the educational process, there has been numerous laws, codes, and policies established by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Department of Education, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Head Start Program, National Parent-Teacher Association, and a multitude of other organizations.  The national standards for parent/family involvement programs are similar to most other educational organizations and are as followed:

 

1)       Communicating- communication between home and school is regular, two-way, and meaningful

2)       Parenting- parenting skills are promoted and supported

3)       Student Learning- parents play an integral role in assisting student learning

4)       Volunteering- parents are welcome in the school, and their support and assistance are sought

5)       School Decision Making and Advocacy- parents are full partners in the decisions that affect children and families

6)       Collaborating with Community- community resources are used to strengthen schools, families, and student learning

 

In addition, the ESEA provides a specific statutory definition.  The statute defines parental involvement as the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring—

·         That parents play an integral role in assisting their child’s learning;

·         That parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school;

·         That parents are full partners in their child’s education and are included, as appropriate, in decision-making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child; and

·         That other activities are carried out, such as those described in section 1118 of the ESEA (Parental Involvement). [Section 9101(32), ESEA.]

 

Public policy on parent involvement is a clear issue; it is necessary and fundamental in the educational process.  Parents are mandated to participate in their child’s education.  There is an array of options how parents may become involved.  It is left up to the school and district to determine how the involvement will take place. 

 

 

“It takes a village to educate a child.”

- wise African saying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Analysis of the Impact on the School

and all its Audiences

 

 

Research and general consensus regarding parental involvement in schools is clear and compelling.  Active participation of parents in school leads to increased student achievement and school wide success.  Communities benefit from active parent involvement, particularly those of low socio-economic status.  The question is no longer if parents should be participating, but how they should participate? 

 

Studies have shown, when parents are involved in their children’s education at home they do better in school. When they are involved at school, their children go farther in school and the schools they go to are enhanced.  Requiring parents to be involved at their children’s school is an important step in building a community of learners and improving our schools.  This resolution to school improvement will also impact the classroom teacher in urban schools were parents are less likely to volunteer.

 

According to Patricial Albjerb Graham, research professor of the history of education and former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, states working conditions in city schools serving low-income children are likely to be rigid and unpleasant.  In our opinion, this does not foster enthusiasm among teachers nor fosters academic learning.  Mandating parents to be involved in their schools in many capacities such as keeping the yard clean, maintaining a community garden, planning after school activities or helping teachers with organization needs may foster a pleasant working environment reducing the work stress for teachers.  According to Joyce Kaser, Senior Program Associate with WestEd,  “Shared visions enable people to be bound by a common aspiration. There is reason to believe that shared visions evolve in part because of a strong underlying need for people to be connected in achieving some common goal.”  Another public consideration is that of parents and teachers working together, especially in urban schools to improve the academic achievement and reduce the gap between educational opportunities of the rich and the poor.  We see this as an opportunity to support our teachers in the classroom.

 

Sec. 6311 of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 states that each state shall support the collection and dissemination to local educational agencies and schools of effective parental involvement.  We would encourage our state’s parents to join our school’s committee and help develop an effective model for parental involvement.  We would also share with our parents that parent involvement under No Child Left Behind always has been the centerpiece of Title I.

 

Shaver and Walls conducted an experimental study in the Journal of Research and Development in Education.  The authors surveyed parental involvement on the reading and math achievement of 335 Title I students in second through eighth grades, and their parents.  The students who participated in the study all were receiving remedial help in reading and math.  Information about their achievement levels was based on pre- and post-tests on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS/4) in reading and math.  The district developed a series of three-hour parent workshops that involved information, training, and discussions.  Each Title I teacher was required to attend at least four of these sessions during the school year to promote five types of involvement - 1) parenting; 2) parent-teacher communication; 3) parental involvement at school; 4) parental involvement at home; and 5) program decision-making.  The researchers found that students whose parents regularly attended school-based parent workshops made greater gains in reading and math than students with less-involved parents.

 

Moreover, Mattingley, Prislin, McKenzie, and Rodriguez in The Case of Parental Involvement Programs, analyzed 41 studies that evaluated K-12 parental involvement programs in order to assess claims that such programs are an effective means of improving student learning.  The authors found that the majority of existing evidence regarding the links between parental involvement and student achievement comes from correlation studies rather than rigorous, systematic evaluations of the impact programs have on student learning (p.550).  Of the 41 studies, the authors found only four them used the most rigorous research design.  Two of these studies found significantly improved performance on standardized achievement tests among children whose parents participated in the intervention program; two found no significant effects.  All four of the studies addressed minority and/or low-income populations.  Each focused on training parents or older siblings to help tutor students or to help with homework.  The two programs also extended the duration of parent training over a longer period than the two showing no significant effect.  The authors also noted that the majority of intervention programs they reviewed focused on changing parent behavior – especially in the areas of parenting and supporting home learning – rather than on changing teacher practices or school structures.

 

Parents become empowered by developing confidence in helping their children at home and many of them further their own education.  Teacher morale improves because they work with families and expect more from them.  Also they feel a stronger connection to and support from the community.  Schools get better because when parents are involved at home and at school, they are full partners and the performance of all children in the school tends to improve.  Finally, the communities grow stronger because families feel more invested in the school system and the school system becomes more responsive to parent and community needs.

 

Individuals, parents, educational officials, and the state are at a point where one cannot help but realize that we are at the crossroads of making a positive educational impact.  We can continue down the same narrow alley we have been traveling or we can make sure that schools, parents, and children are all committed to the educational success of our Republic.

 

By approving a policy of mandatory parent involvement, we are saying that we want to invest in our children’s future and we want to make a difference in the youth of our democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

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