Family engagement isn't a checklist

I'm a proud parent of three: two sons, now college grads, and a daughter in high school. I became active in their education at school when our first child entered kindergarten (lo those many years ago...) and it's what keeps me engaged during those long Board of Ed meetings each month.

Back when they were little, the family-school partnership inspired and motivated me to contribute my skills as an artist and musician to further the educational goals of students and the school. I was happy to do things other than fundraise. Besides, it was fun connecting with other families and teachers and staff in the process.

Family engagement isn't a checklist; it's about a school's openness to a relationship with all of its families for student success.

More than 40 years of research shows that students with families actively engaged in their education at school and at home do way better at school and in life - and this holds true regardless of a parent's level of education, country of origin, or socioeconomic status.

Modern school culture uses the language of "partnership" to describe the mutual relationship of schools and families to co-construct opportunities for learning. This is intentional, as it acknowledges the child at the center of decisions in schools, families, and communities. It's a statement about the shared responsibility of all who make those decisions and that they're focused on children's development and learning success. This focus impacts student skills, grades and achievement, health and safety, discipline, and other attitudes and behaviors, and includes encouraging students to develop talent in art, sports, music, technology, and other areas.

As the Parent Representative on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, I'm one of 11 voting members appointed to provide oversight of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by virtue of my parent lens. 

That parent lens isn't only important for some things, it's necessary on all of the issues that have an impact on our children, our schools, and our communities. It's in all children's best interest to have families represented all across and up and down the educational enterprise and, by the time they're in high school, to have students represented, as well.

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Notes, quotes, tweets

I've blogged before about my experience in a global book study with the book, Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential School Guide to Family-School Partnerships. Some of the parents and educators from that group have gone on to have the book study with parents and educators at their school.

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.
~ Malala Yousafzai