As a new school year begins, I find myself reflecting on the challenges we face building family engagement into our education landscape. I’ve written about the benefits and ideas on implementing it in our schools. When I work with staff and parents, I see the same practices being used year after year. Is it a misunderstanding or a matter of choosing comfort over efficacy?
Family engagement and its positive effects on student achievement have very little to do with a school’s ability to fundraise. However, over the years, school councils, educators and parents have come to believe that the amount of money they raise in a year will directly impact the academic potential of their students. The pundits say that the fundraising disparity between schools in high socio-economic areas and those living in poverty is linked to inequity in education. There are important and disturbing differences but research doesn’t link it to the amount of money parents cough up.
I joined Twitter as a way of hearing new and different voices in the field of education and parent engagement. I found amazing people blogging and having great online conversations about these topics. (And I see only a minute fraction!) Some inspire me; others almost cause my head to explode; a few make me stop and reconsider my beliefs, while many confirm my convictions.
By now, we are well aware of research that indicates a link between family engagement and improved student achievement.
Most schools have a school council and all Boards in Ontario have a Parent Involvement Committee (PIC). But are we moving ahead or are efforts in this area the same as they were two decades ago? Are we doing the same things and expecting a different result? I’ve worked with some passionate, dedicated parents who are engaged with their school, hoping to make things even better.