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Parents and Community have to be Partners in School Reform

URBAN PERSPECTIVE - Education reform is a hot button these days depending on who you talk you. The fight to improve education has traditional public schools supporters pitted against charter operators. Everyone seems to think their right about the best transformation methods to improve student academic achievement.
Although reform has focused much on administration and teachers it hasn’t emphasized the importance of parents and the local community’s responsibility. The two play a pivotal role in helping schools meet performance standards and filling the gaps in the under-funded and highly political reform initiatives.

The foundation for education starts at home. Parents have the responsibility to cultivate learning and push their children to achieve academically. They can’t rely on a school or a teacher to teach the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic – they have to do it. Nor can parents think that their child’s development will progress within the bubble of an educational system.

Parents have to empower themselves in education. This requires participating in homework assignments; knowing what is taught; being aggressive in building an in-home curriculum beyond the school’s; finding supplemental learning tools; recognizing a child’s capabilities; and most importantly, engaging in school politics. All of these actions are personal and time investments.

Empowerment is about practice. Parents can’t succumb to excuses, such as working late, lack of time, or educational aptitude. A parent’s excuse is ultimately a child’s failure. Designate and set homework and study time. Turn off the TV, take the cell phone, MP3, and computer to force quiet time for reading. Ask to review homework before it is returned to the teacher to keep tabs on what is happening in the classroom. Use technology to enhance learning since it is the new and best way for this generation.

As for communities, they must work in collaboration with their local schools to determine the needs of students and the resources available to ensure academic success. They must set the bar high and challenge students to exceed expectations. They have to create safe passages and safe zones for students so kids feel safe going to school and safe within the school.

They have to build political will and challenge educational power brokers to bring reforms that incorporate community input and reflect cultural competence.

Finally, they have to mentor and financially support activities that will facilitate personal and education growth.

Reform and accountability doesn’t wholly rest with educational system – it lies with parents and communities who are the real partners in education.

(Janet Denise Kelly offers more than a decade of accomplishments in the housing and nonprofit sector. Janet brings valuable insight in the areas of community and economic development. Additionally, she brings knowledge regarding the leadership and management challenges faced by large and small nonprofits that are struggling or growing organizations. She blogs at –cw

Tags: school reform, parents, community, schools, education

Vol 9 Issue 90
Pub: Nov 11, 2011