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Parents Want a Bigger Say in Education: Granting Them a Voice

Your school district puts a lot of effort into parent engagement. Town hall meetings and parent-teacher conferences have historically been among the most popular ways to make moms and dads and guardians feel heard.

A couple of years ago, most parents would have been fine connecting with school leaders at monthly in-person meetings. If their child broke the rules, or struggled to make the grade, perhaps they got a call from the teacher or the principal or came in after school for a chat.

The goal was different back then. Parents just wanted to be kept in the loop. Larger policy concerns were reserved for school board meetings or the PTA. Then came email and social media. New channels of communication created wholly new expectations. These days, parents want more than a monthly status report on student progress; increasingly, they demand a say in school decision-making, from the classroom to the front office to the football field.

Making parents a priority
A recent story in Education Week details a nationwide push toward more inclusive parent engagement in schools.

Several school systems have launched entire departments dedicated to improving the school-parent connection. Some states have gone further, evaluating teachers on their ability to include parents in the education of their children.

“Instead of constantly knocking on the door, I feel like the door is open, and we’re invited to the table,” D’Lisa Crain, administrator of the Family-School Partnership Department for the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nev., told Ed Week.

Administrators for the Seattle Public Schools recently held a special meeting on the subject of better parent engagement. While the school district has always made an effort to inform parents of its choices, at least one local group said those conversations need to happen earlier and on a more regular basis.

“We have tons and tons of community meetings,” Stephanie Jones, executive director of Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle, told The Seattle Times. “We have very little community participation in the decision-making.”

Is your school or district under pressure to include parents in critical school decisions? Looking for a better way to get feedback from the school community? Town Hall meetings are nice to have. But they won’t get the job done. What you need is an always-on solution—and, no, we’re talking about email. Click here to learn more.