Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

When Parents and Schools Work Together, Everyone Wins!

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By Anne Foster, Executive Director, Parents for Public Schools (PPS)

In Texas, parents are talking about what many consider excessive, high-stakes testing. In California, parents are advocating for better funding for the state’s public schools.  And in Mississippi, they are taking part in debates about charter schools and letting their legislators know their opinions on charter schools. Parents who currently have children in public schools have the shortest window of time for schools to be successful. They only get one chance to educate their children, so time is of the essence to them.  With the right skills and knowledge, parents can be powerful and effective public education advocates and can work in a strong partnership with their children’s schools.

 Parents for Public Schools was founded with the belief that parents should be at the table when decisions are made that impact their children.  Many parents are equipped to do just that and are taking an active role with public education issues, while partnering with their local schools for higher student achievement. Research has clearly shown that strong parent engagement in schools increases student achievement, positive attitudes toward school, higher homework completion, and higher graduation rates. It decreases dropout rates and suspensions. When parents are engaged at school, children do better in school, and the schools get better. It’s a reform strategy we can’t afford to dismiss.

 PPS works through community-based chapters across the country to strengthen public schools by engaging, educating and mobilizing parents. In addition, over the past several years PPS has provided parent advocacy and leadership sessions to help parents understand and execute their role as parent leaders and advocates for quality public schools. We have done this in some of the most challenging parts of the country, with parents who have felt disenfranchised and who have not had a voice or the necessary skills to be engaged with their children’s schools.

 Parents for Public Schools has used our experience working with parents to create and launch the PPS-branded curriculum for parents called PPS PEP (Parent Engagement Programs). The goals of PEP are improved student achievement, increased parent engagement, and enhanced school-parent collaboration. With over twenty years of experience working with parents and schools, we are helping parents learn to reduce barriers to learning and to bring community stakeholders together to address local issues. PEP also prepares school district staff to work effectively with PEP teams.

 PEP calls on parents to establish learning communities that focus on student achievement issues and to develop a personal leadership plan that determines goals and objectives to reduce barriers to learning at home and at school. The PEP program is designed to reflect Common Core State Standards, which include higher order thinking skills. Sample topics covered in PEP include understanding school accountability, analyzing student data, collaborating with all stakeholders, recognizing leadership styles, identifying barriers to learning and creating collaborative teams. PEP also incorporates technology into the curriculum to bridge the digital divide and can customize the use of technology to support district and community needs.

 PPS PEP is available to schools, school districts, community groups, and anyone who wants to bring parents together to gain the necessary skills to have a voice in their children’s schools and to work in partnership with their schools.  PEP works to raise standards, solve problems and advocate for the community.  Our programs meet Title I parent engagement requirements; more than that, they exceed requirements by authentically engaging parents and improving schools in the process.

 PPS PEP leverages resources so that parents and community members become supporting and engaged education partners. Schools and parents can build powerful alliances that improve results for schools and students. From over twenty years of working with parents in public schools across America, we know that when parents and schools work together, everybody wins.

Editor’s Note: Our guest blogger today is Anne Foster, the Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools. Her email address is afoster@parents4publicschools.org. To learn more about Parents for Public Schools and the PPS PEP curriculum, go to www.PPSparentprograms.com.