Today the LAUSD Board of Education received an initial set of recommendations from our Parent Engagement Task Force outlining ways the District can transform the culture and practice of parental engagement throughout the District. This work stemmed out of my Parents as Equal Partners in the Education of Their Children resolution, co-sponsored by Board Members Zimmer and Martinez.
The Taskforce recommendations mark a significant step forward in our collective commitment and duty to shift the District’s status quo culture of compliance in the area of parent engagement to one of authentic partnership and respect that acknowledges the central role that parents and families play in their children’s educational success.
The Taskforce – chaired by Antonia Hernandez, President of the California Community Foundation and former President of MALDEF – focused its work on three essential elements of parent engagement, as outlined in our resolution:
• Identifying parent rights and responsibilities in supporting student achievement;
• Building parent capacity as teaching partners, advocates who push for better schools, and decision-makers who choose the best educational options for their children; and
• Addressing barriers to parent and family involvement
Developed by over one hundred stakeholders including parents, school leaders, district staff, educators, nonprofits and university faculty, the Taskforce recommendations emphasize the need to invest in families; the importance of accountability for all stakeholders including parents, teachers, principals and district staff in fostering authentic partnerships; and the need to create systematic communication between parents and schools that is open, equitable and data-based.
Our next step is to receive from our new Superintendent, Dr. John Deasy, a comprehensive Master Plan for Family and Community Engagement that begins to integrate parents and families to the center of all of our reform efforts. This conversation is essential if we are to make good on our promise of educational excellence to our children.
Last week at the United Way Education Summit, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated, “The public school system of Los Angeles is at a crossroads. Community leaders, community groups, unions, parents, educators, and students can continue on the road you have been on. Or you can take the road less traveled, the harder road.”
The Board of Education, with overwhelming parent and community support, made a clear decision to embark upon the road less traveled last December when it passed the Parents As Equal Partners resolution. The passage of the resolution boldly acknowledged that our inability to meaningfully and systematically engage parents posed the greatest threat to the success of our students. It signified that without parent involvement all other educational reform efforts would be fruitless.
With gratitude to Antonia Hernandez, chair of the Taskforce and a long time civil rights leader, and all the members of the Taskforce and sub-committees, we walk firmly and deliberately on the road less traveled. Indeed, today we moved further on that road to honor parents as equal partners in the education of their children.