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October 25, 2013

Parents Go to School to Help Students Succeed


One Saturday a month, moms, dads, grandparents and guardians gather in a Los Angeles classroom to learn about learning. The teacher stresses the importance of study habits, homework and high expectations for their children.

The classes are part of an experiment in some of the schools in America’s second largest school district. Officials hope to see graduation improvements that can be scaled for the more than 690,000 students in the system.

The 17 schools managed by the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles are trying Parent College as a way to encourage families to aim for graduation from high school and then college.

“The success of your child depends on the strength of our triangle, you, the parent, your child and me,” Martha Maitchoukow, a teacher at Parent College, tells the parents in her class. “I cannot do it by myself. You cannot do it by yourself. Your child cannot do it by himself or herself.”

Studies show that kids with involved parents have better academic success and are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college. This is particularly important in Watts, where the community faces many educational challenges and only roughly half of students will graduate from high school.

Ana Rojas, a mother who participates in Parent College, hopes her two children will buck this trend.

“I want to learn more every day. I want to use what I learn to help my kids at home, be like an additional teacher at home,” she said. “Today, I learned I have to be more attentive so that they will go to university one day and distinguish themselves as good professionals.”

The program is also helping parents who dropped out get a second chance at an education. Nadia Solis, another Parent College attendee, earned her high school degree after a conversation with her young daughter, Darlene.

“Her answer to me was, if you didn’t finish high school, why are you telling me?” said Nadia. “I just gave her a simple — a simple answer of, well, I just couldn’t. But the minute that I had Parent College the next week, it was my first question to my teacher: What can I do to get my GED?”

Warm up questions
  1. Why is it important to finish high school?
  2. Is it important to go to college? Why or why not? What are some of the risks and benefits associated with going to college?
  3. Who do you think has the greatest impact on how well you do in your own education and why?
Discussion questions
  1. Do you think that the Parent College program is going to make a difference in the lives of the parents? How about in the lives of their kids? Why or why not?
  2. What are some of the reasons that people don’t finish high school or college? What solutions can you come up with to help others overcome those challenges?
  3. Imagine you are a parent, what three pieces of advice would you give your child about school?
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