After our superintendent call and webinar last week on SIG implementation, some of you asked for more information on The Parent Academy (TPA), a parent and family engagement strategy used by Miami Dade County as part of their turnaround efforts. Nikolai Vitti was kind enough to share with me some additional information on this initiative, and I wanted to pass along these resources to you. In the documents attached here, you’ll find more information on how Miami Dade runs their Parent Academy, as well as some supporting research from the National Family, School, and Community Engagement Working Group. If you have questions, I encourage you to contact the district directly to find out more!
I wanted to follow up on Ken Bedell’s post last week about the importance of families and parents in education. I feel particularly passionate about this, because my family has been tremendously influential in my success, both in school and as I moved into education as my career. I’ve also heard from lots of you out in the field about how strongly you feel about the importance of parental involvement, and I want to assure you that the Department agrees!
In fact, both President Obama and Secretary Duncan have expressed their support for a culture of responsibility where parents take an active role in their children’s education. Secretary Duncan has stated that everyone must take responsibility for the education of America’s children, and that parents have the most important role described, as well as his desire for all parents to be real partners in education with their children’s teachers, from cradle to career. In this partnership, students and parents should feel connected, teachers should feel supported, and parents should feel welcome in schools.
So, here’s what the Department is proposing to support this type of parent and family engagement. In May 2010, Secretary Duncan announced the Education Department’s proposal to double the amount of federal dollars set aside for family involvement — from 1 percent to 2 percent of Title I dollars, or a total of roughly $270 million. The Department also proposed an optional Family Engagement and Responsibility Fund that states can create with the use of $145 million in existing Title I funds. The fund would be used to create a state-led competition that would support outstanding local family involvement programs.
And above all, we’ll continue to work on ways to encourage best practice sharing between teachers, principals, and schools. We hope you’ll join us in building this community of learning and practice.
By Ken Bedell
Senior Advisor, Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Center at the U.S. Department of Education
When ETS is mentioned I think of educational testing. I remember the anxiety of taking the SAT and GRE exams, but last week I saw a different side of ETS. They sponsored a day-long conference on The Family: America’s Smallest School. Speakers and panels discussed recent research on what is happening with American families, successful programs that are effective in supporting families, and family policy strategies.
The keynote address was delivered by Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the Department of Education. She set the tone for the discussion by describing the role that her family played in supporting her own education. Particularly moving was the story of her grandmother, who was a teacher in Mexico. After retiring from teaching she refused to join her daughter and granddaughter in the United States because she was so much a part of the community where she had taught for years. As Dr. Meléndez’ story illustrated, families teach children to value education.
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn from the Teachers College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University reported on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. She talked about the importance of structure and stability in children’s lives According to Dr. Brooks-Gunn, these studies provide the only data we have on the influence of fathers on children’s lives over time. More information on these studies can be found at http://www.fragilefamilies.princeton.edu/index.asp.
The conference helped me understand why the President’s Fatherhood initiative and the Department of Education parent involvement work is so important. Here are a few resources that may be helpful to those who are interested in these initiatives.