When parents want to make a difference in the experience of their children in schools, or when schools want to engage parents that way, parent involvement is the key for success. Parents commit to become active partners with the school and their students. This can happen in many ways.
Modern Parent Involvement
Historically, parents have been advocates for schools, calling for better funding, increased opportunities, different classwork, or other steps towards improvement. Today, schools frequently call for parent volunteers in classrooms and special activities. Importantly, parents are becoming involved in school advocacy, meeting with policymakers and elected officials to ensure their students are receiving the education they deserve.
Interests between students and parents obviously intersect. By seeking to enhance parent involvement through Meaningful Student Involvement, schools are acknowledging these connections and enhance outcomes for all stakeholders in education. This can happen in many ways, including co-involved projects, trainings for students and parents together, and positions for students and parents to serve together as appropriate throughout the education system.
Fathers Supporting Students
An organization in Denver, Colorado, has taken on this challenge in a deep and systematic way for more than two decades. Padres and Jovenes Unidos has been struggling to transform the education system by uniting students and parents together with a variety of initiatives. Borne of the need for better school leadership, today the organization “is a multi-issue organization led by people of color who work together for educational excellence, racial justice for youth, immigrant rights and quality healthcare for all.” Jovens Unidos specifically seeks to end the school-to-prison pipeline and fight for immigrant student rights. (Padres and Jovens Unidos, 2014)
Engaging students and parents together to improve schools can build families, strengthen communities and build democracy in ways that are unexpected and enlivening. Meaningful Student Involvement provides important frameworks for imagining, enacting and enhancing efforts towards this goal.
- Parts of the Education System
- Understanding Schools
- Meaningful Student Involvement Toolbox
- Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook