National Education Goal
believe that strengthening the connection between families and schools
is so important that we have made it one of America's National Education
Goals. The Goal declares that by the year 2000, 'Every school will
promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and
participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth
-- Richard W. Riley U.S. Secretary
When Schools And Families Team
Up To Help Children Learn, Everyone Wins!
In Houston, Texas, administrators
from Robert E. Lee High School went to their students' homes and
sat on stoops with family members to "cut contracts" with parents,
enlisting their help in the effort to reduce school violence. The
result was a safer school and steadily rising test scores.
In Murfreesboro, Tenn., schools
stay open until 6 p.m. to allow parents to work without worry, knowing
their children are involved in constructive activities.
At the Sterne Brunson Elementary School in Benton Harbor, Mich.,
parents help teachers and administrators by working as classroom
aides and office support staff.
And in New York City, teachers link the classroom to the home by
operating a telephone homework hotline that students or parents
can dial in the evening to get help with assignments.
These are but few examples of the many ways schools are encouraging
greater family involvement in education. They are discovering that
school-family partnerships are an important way to help children
learn and a great way for schools and families to help each other.
School-family partnerships: Enjoying the benefits, overcoming the
Despite the advent of many partnerships, schools and families remain
disconnected in too many communities. There are many reasons why
schools and families fail to join forces. Sometimes parents say
they do not feel welcome at school.
Often, work schedules and other time constraints, language barriers,
or the sheer drag of daily life get in the way. And sometimes parents
who did not like school when they were students are reluctant to
get involved again as adults.
On the other side of the coin, too many schools do not put out the
welcome mat for their students' families or simply overlook the
great value of getting families involved. Here's what can be done:
Schools can encourage and support greater family involvement in
education. Research shows that when families take an active, direct
role in their children's education, children get better grades and
test scores, graduate from high school at higher rates, and have
greater enrollment in higher education. This involvement has also
been shown to improve teacher morale and job satisfaction. Schools
should be places where families feel welcome and valued. School
programs that encourage greater parental involvement are more important
than any other factor in determining whether or not parents actually
do get involved. Some schools make a special effort to help low-income
families get involved because many of these families wait for the
school to approach them.
Parents and families can support their schools and play their part
at home. Parental involvement can take many forms, including getting
involved in PTA activities; discussing children's progress with
teachers on a regular basis; checking homework every night; reading
to preschoolers; and encouraging students to take the challenging
For more information, ideas, and publications, visit the
Partnership for Family Involvement in Education,
sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.
Involve Families | Learn to Communicate
| Encourage Parental Participation | Welcome Parents
| Overcome Language Barriers | Use Technology