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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Phoenix Plays Host to Two NCLR Education Institutes

In Phoenix last week, our education programs team hosted two institutes dedicated to improving education outcomes for youth. The Leadership Institute for Latino Literacy (LILL) and Padres Comprometidos both welcomed participants from across the country for three days of best practices, information sharing, and networking. 

During LILL, participants received hands-on training and leadership development to help them improve literacy instruction through the inclusion of technology at their schools.

Padres Comprometidos, our parent engagement program, builds the capacity of Latino parents of students from pre-school through high school. This happens as the parents learn their role in preparing their children for academic success in school and ultimately for college and careers.

Participants at this year’s institutes also made use of social media to document their experiences. Below are some of the social media highlights of the two events. Be sure to visit nclr.org for more information on each of these terrific programs.

So excited to be part of the @nclr #padrescomprometidos training #NCLRpc #arizona #statefarm

A photo posted by YouCREATEtheChange (@neweconomicsforwomen) on

Thanks to all the LILL and Padres Comprometidos participants for making this year’s events such a great success!

Got Parents?

By Crystal J. Gallegos, Assistant Principal, Chavez/Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy, Pueblo, CO

(This was first posted to the National Institute for Latino School Leaders blog.)

NILSL_parentspost_CrystalGallegosSchools across the country are working diligently to get parents more involved in their students’ education. As educators look for innovative ways to engage parents in their schools they are also seeking assistance from the outside community.

There are numerous reasons parents are not engaging in the educational process. These include, but are not limited to: transportation, work, money, intimidation, a feeling of the unknown, insecurities, language, and socio-economic status. Each of these factors must be taken into account when encouraging parents to come and participate at school.

There are numerous outside programs that can be replicated with success at a school, such as: Padres Comprometidos (an NCLR program), Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO), Family Nights, Classroom Parents, Parent Volunteer Groups, and Conversation Groups between parents and administration. The partnership between schools and families are the driving force of student success.  Continue reading