As part of our Parents' Night Out series, we're proud to present this guide to family advocacy, engagement and representation for parents, educators and advocates.
This is just the beginning of a conversation around access and equity. As with any brief, there are issues that we haven't touched on here that we will in the future, including parent perspectives and policy supports to ensure equitable education experiences for every child.
Psst — have you RSVP'd to tonight's Parent Power Happy Hour at Cafe Istanbul?
Video: OPEN Conversations on Parent Power with Mischell Davis and the Parent Advocators
Parent power webinar coming soon — keep your eyes on this space!
Family representation in schools = better outcomes for students
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
Federal law requires schools receiving Title I funding (financial assistance for schools with high percentages of children from low-income families) to reserve at least 1% of their funds for parental engagement. This could include home-based programs, distributing information, collaborating with community-based organizations, or professional development in family engagement for teachers and administrators.
Local School Councils
Local School Councils (LSCs) were created by the Chicago School Reform law of 1988 in response to frustration with the lack of progress and accountability in Chicago’s public schools. LSCs are duly-elected bodies at nearly every Chicago public elementary, middle and high school. The chairperson must be a parent, and parents account for most of the other seats. An LSC has real decision making authority in the school, including hiring and evaluating the school principal, deciding on contract renewals, and approving the entire school budget and annual strategic plan. This is the strongest school site-based management system in the nation — and it works. Within five years, 144 previously low-performing Chicago public elementary schools began to make significant and sustained gains under LSC-powered school reform.
Orleans Parish School District Parental Involvement Policy
The New Orleans School District has clear guidelines set in place on involving and engaging families in their child's education. The big takeaway? Each school is mandated to jointly develop with parents a school-parent compact that outlines how parents, the entire school staff, and students will share the responsibility for improved student academic achievement.
What You Can Do
Become a parent leader
Join the PTA or school improvement plan team at your child's school. If they don't have one, start a chapter!
Connect with parent liason at your child's school, or call and ask why they don't have one.
Follow the funding
If your child's school is a Title I recipient, remind them they receive money to actively engage parents in schools. Where does that funding go?
Show up and stand up
Visit a meeting of the school board or charter organization that runs your child's school. These meetings are required by law to be open to the public — if the schedule is unlisted or you're not allowed in, contact the school board.