In A Case Study of School-Linked, Collective Parent Engagement authors Michael Lawson and Tania Alameda-Lawson examines issues surrounding Latino parent engagement in schools. In it they find a successful structure for parent engagement (Community Action Network) working with parents, university, and school district. The authors describe a program that is tailored to the needs of parents because parents are expected to design, implement, and operate the activities. Support is provided to parents by individuals (typically a parent and a community resident) who are trained as paraprofessional social workers by the university.
I’ve worked at schools that have had parent centers with paid staff working to facilitate activities. In my role I have worked to empower parents by meeting with them to identify needs and find resources to address those needs. Many of those resources are outside the immediate school but many community based organizations worked with us. Some of those needs could be met with training that the school could offer. However, in most cases, parents simply wanted to feel needed on campus.
What do you think is a good model for parent engagement?
In The Downside of Giving Every Student a Laptop – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society, the author suggests that providing some students with technology may actually lower student achievement. A simple read of the summary will lead some to suggest that we shouldn’t spend money on technology in education. This argument might actually be bolstered by the finding that it is the poor and disenfranchised that actually “suffer” the most when provided technology.
However, further reading provides additional insight and response to this reactionary suggestion: “The researchers found that the Internet was the most productive, in terms of student achievement, in homes where students had effective parental supervision of their computer activities” (Ash, 2009). Yes, when you allow children unsupervised time they will not always choose to use it to further their academics; I believe this is true of many students, not just any single group of students. Moreover, you couple this with hard working families where parent(s) are working to survive and may not have time to provide the type of support students need then you do have the setting for the type of findings originally described.
Let’s stop blaming the poor for being poor and provide support to all parents so they have the tools needed to make smart decisions about how to best support their children. Let’s also expand after school programming so that all students can have access to supervised and appropriate access to technology. Access to and familiarity with technology is no longer “optional”; it is a necessity. Unless you are looking to create a permanent underclass that simply performs manual labor all students need ready access to tools that will develop their minds to their fullest potential.