GETTING SCHOOL(ED)

By Scott Lan

Between juggling a demanding work schedule, family responsibilities, household errands, and various extracurricular activities, it’s no wonder parents find it difficult to get actively involved in their child’s education. Most of us simply trust that the system is doing a good job and will produce the results we want to see in our children – independent, creative thinkers and problem solvers that are well-prepared for success in college and career in the 21st century. However, decades of research and studies have shown that parent involvement is critical to increased academic outcomes and long-term student success. This means more than just simply attending an open house, back-to-school night, or volunteering to chaperone a class field trip. To be truly engaged in your child’s education, you must also be well informed. Here are three key actions you can take to ensure you are effectively advocating for your child’s education:

  1. Know your (Common Core) standards – there are a lot of myths (http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/myths-vs-facts/) and misconceptions surrounding the adoption of Common Core. Do your research. There are arguments to be made on both sides, but ultimately the standards are being adopted nationwide (with a handful of states opting out) and parents should know how these changes will affect their child’s education.
  2. Join your school site council or leadership team – nearly all schools have a school site council (or equivalent) that meets on a regular basis to discuss issues affecting the school community and to develop meaningful solutions to address these issues. By joining the leadership team, not only will you become aware of the various academic and policy issues affecting your school, but it will give you a seat at the table to ensure that your voice is heard and your concerns are being addressed within a larger shared decision-making system.
  3. Attend your local school board meetings – in addition to being aware of what is happening at your child’s school, it’s always good to know what bigger picture initiatives are taking place at the district level. These meetings will allow you to gain insight into the district’s main priorities, how your tax dollars are being spent, and give you an opportunity to network with other like-minded parents and community members. The agenda will typically have time set aside for public comments, so any larger, district-wide ideas or issues that you would like addressed can be voiced during this time.

“Knowledge is power, and being knowledgeable and well informed about current education issues is critical to being an effective advocate for your child.”

Knowledge is power, and being knowledgeable and well informed about current education issues is critical to being an effective advocate for your child. With all of the various responsibilities and obligations that make up your busy day, being involved and engaged in your child’s education is one of the best investments you can make – and one that is sure to pay great dividends for years to come.