Parent Engagement: In the Schoolhouse and Beyond

Guest blog post by Maritza Solano, Director of Education, CASA

Carla* (*names have been changed for confidentially) was nervous about being a panelist during the National PTA Legislative Conference in Washington, DC in early March. Carla, along with two other mothers from Prince George’s County in Maryland, were invited by UnidosUS’s (formerly NCLR) education team to the Conference to share her perspective on how to better engage underserved communities—specifically immigrant parents like herself.

Carla’s perspective was critical, as the audience present at the Conference had the potential to impact national policy conversations being debated on Capitol Hill. She was bombarded with questions from participants intrigued by how an undocumented mother of four with limited English skills had become such a fearless leader of her children’s school and community, despite the political rhetoric that was targeting families like her own. Carla’s response was straightforward: “I am no longer afraid and know that my voice is powerful and needed”.

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ESSA and the Progress of Education Policy toward Parental Engagement

By PUENTE

Parent engagement is a critical component of student success, especially in large urban areas. Schools and local districts are increasingly investing in connecting with parents and families in ways that recognize their cultural backgrounds and unique needs.

In particular, educators are working to connect families to critical resources such as medical care, legal aid, housing support, financial literacy, language development, and access to higher education opportunities. This work allows educators to deepen the value of schools as institutions within all communities, especially those communities that have been historically marginalized.

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How Do We Ensure Personalized Learning is a True Equity Initiative?

By Maria Moser, Senior Director of Teaching and Learning, NCLR and Ace Parsi, Personalized Learning Partnership Manager, National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Personalized learning is the new “it” in education. This approach, often defined by flexible learning environments that meet student interests, assets and challenges, has achieved the mantle of educational panacea, and has plenty of smart, committed advocates highlighting its potential as a game changer in educational equity conversations. Representing equity groups working in this space, we remain cautiously optimistic, knowing that there’s inevitably a gap between aspirations and reality and closing that gap demands a lot of work.

Like other advocates, we are excited by the potential of personalized learning to better serve students with disabilities (SWDs) and English Language Learners (ELLs). In principle, personalized learning invites students to demonstrate learning in multiple ways and address skills and topics at a flexible pace. It creates a systemic lens that not only identifies student challenges—and subsequently directs more timely supports to address those challenges—but also builds off students’ strengths and interests. In a world where skills such as self-advocacy, collaboration and communication are as important as content mastery, the personalized learning movement seems to demand high expectations and opportunities to develop these 21st-century competencies for all learners. Last, but not least, personalized learning builds off proven practice in serving students with disabilities and ELLs such as personalized plans, cultural responsiveness, and universal design for learning.

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Padres Comprometidos con CHISPA Goes to Texas: A Reflection

By Eric DeJesus, Assistant Program Director at Cypress Hills

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I left the Padres Comprometidos (PC) con CHISPA training in San Antonio feeling reenergized.

I had the opportunity to meet dedicated and highly motivated educators from NCLR’s Affiliate Network. As an Assistant Program Director at Cypress Hills Afterschool Learning Center, and a resident of the community I serve in Brooklyn, I greatly understand the value parent involvement can have in a school’s development.

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Parents Share Dreams for Their Children

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Images of nurtured seedlings growing into huge, strong trees or of a house with a strong foundation where the furnishings include love, respect, confidence, and communication might not represent parent engagement in education at first glance. But for a group of parents at our Affiliate Southwest Key in Austin, Texas, this is what came to mind. The group was part of the Padres Comprometidos parent engagement program meeting late last month. We asked them to think of images depicting what it means to be involved in their children’s education, and all of the representations depicted a cradle-to-career path that parents aspire for their children.

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