Share
Explore BrainMass

Parent Involvement in school governance.

List ways parents can become involved in decision making and governance.

Solution Preview

List ways parents can become involved in decision making and governance.

In my opinion, parents can become involved in decision making and governance by participating locally. Parents should go to their school board meetings, city council meetings, county council meetings, park board meetings, state board meetings, and all other local public and government functions in order to get involved in their community. Parents (and all other citizens) should also go and visit their local schools during the school day. They should also go to libraries, parks, public recreational facilities, and all other public facilities in order to understand the day-to-day functional aspects of these public services.

As a teacher, I always told parents that it is especially important for them to visit the schools that their children will attend long before their children actually go to that school. As a taxpayer, everyone has the right to go and observe the public schools in order to observe how they operate. If parents attend their public school on a variety of different occasions as a volunteer in a variety of capacities, they will be able to truly see the genuine daily operations of the school. As a result, they will also become aware of opportunities to engage and may also be encouraged to engage in some decision making and governance.

Parents can volunteer to be involved with Parent-Teacher-Organizations (PTOs), or parents can volunteer to help teachers run photocopies, help teachers create bulletin boards, help students one-on-one in the classroom, or a parent could volunteer to read a story to a classroom of students during a lunch or study period. As a teacher, I had a parent who came in once a week and read novels to my middle-school students. After a period of time, she became a volunteer for others, and eventually she became a person who worked with parents and teachers in decision-making, and ultimately she worked on the shared leadership committee and became involved in school-governance.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here is an article with web-site reference that will give you many ideas:

http://www.sfkids.org/Content.aspx?id=11340

Today's Parent Involvementâ?"Volunteering and Decision-making
Description
By Lisa Schiff

Parent and family involvement is a necessary ingredient of today's public schools, and not just because of tight budgets. With our diverse and constantly changing communities and culture, parent voices are essential to creating schools that can nurture and develop all of our children. While we know teachers and staff work hard for the benefit of all children at their schools, we also know that typically these same committed educators do not represent the diversity of the student body. By being involved and knowledgeable about what is going on at school, parents provide the checks and balances that are important for working out the subtle disconnects that arise from this combination.
Numerous studies have shown that schools in which parents are welcomed as active participants are schools in which all studentsâ?"struggling and advanced--will best be served. Not only does our involvement benefit our own children, but the steps we take to advocate for one child often means that we are improving the school experience for other children as well.
This is the essence of parent involvement--recognizing that the adults responsible for raising children are an essential ingredient in building excellent schools and in determining what excellence actually looks like. Such a level of participation requires going far beyond traditional notions of how families connect to their children's schools. The role for parents is no longer just that of supporters, but of collaborators and decision makers. Growing out of strong connections between families and school staff, we can build solid communities in which parents and families help shape the quality and nature of our schools. We want to create an environment in which parents and guardians, not just teachers, principals and other administrators, ask fundamental questions such as the following:
- What is being taught and why?
- What is expected of each and every student and why?
- Are the programs and the expectations fair and appropriate? Do they challenge all students academically wherever possible?
- How can we foster a school culture in which we support each other and encourage each other to advocate for our children, to make sure that treatment at school is equitable and that the priorities parents have for their children are also taken into account?
- At some level this boils down to asking ourselves, "What do I think is missing from this school?" and then finding a way to fill that need.

How and Where to Get Involved
As parents and guardians, we can be involved in that process of strengthening and growing our schools in many ways and at many levels from the informal to the legally-mandated.

Parent Organizations
The more informal level of involvement is often spearheaded by parent organizations such as PTAs (chapters of the national Parent Teacher Association) and PTOs (parent teacher organizations not affiliated with the national PTA). These include the familiar efforts to raise funds targeting identified needs at the school, and educational efforts to support parents and guardians. PTAs can also be the supporting structure for parents to organize volunteer-driven programs that substantially supplement a school's offering, such as:
- tutoring in classrooms
- after-school programs
- physical education
- nutrition and health education
- gardening
- building improvement
- libraries
Official School Organizations
More formal involvement with our schools means participating in an officially established school governance body. In California, there are several legally required groups that help with decision-making about the use of school resources. The following groups are designed to ensure that the needs and interests of the entire school community are attended to: School Site Councils (SSCs); School Advisory Councils (SACs); and English Language Advisory Committees (ELACSs). Involvement in these groups is how parents can take on the central questions about a school's priorities along-side principals, teachers, and other parents and community members. Each is discussed briefly below.

School Site Council (SSC)
Schools in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), like schools in all California school districts that support school-site decision making, are required by California's Education Code to have a school-based governing body. This group is called a School Site Council (SSC) and includes the school's principal and elected representation by teachers, staff, parents and community members. Middle and high school SSCs also include student representatives.
SSCs are the heart of decision making at a school. They are responsible for engaging the school community as widely as possible to find out what the community's priorities are and determining how to meet those priorities. All schools in San Francisco are required to have a series of community meetings in which school community members discuss what they think has worked and what hasn't worked, and what they would like to see maintained or changed going into the next year. The SSC is responsible for analyzing all of this information and then developing the academic plan for the school and determining how the school's budget will be used to meet that academic plan.
The SSC is where parents can really be "at the table" in shaping their children's school. Inexperience with budgets and school plans should not stop those who want to be part of this important decision making process, as there are many resources to help anyone participate. An excellent overview of the SSC process can be found on the Parents for Public Schools' (PPS) website. PPS and the SFUSD regularly offer SSC training programs they have developed so that any parent can feel comfortable being on the SSC.

School Advisory Council (SAC)
Schools that receive "Title I" funding from ...

Solution Summary

Parents can become involved in decision making and governance by participating locally. Parents should go to their school board meetings, city council meetings, county council meetings, park board meetings, state board meetings, and all other local public and government functions in order to get involved in their community. Parents (and all other citizens) should also go and visit their local schools during the school day. They should also go to libraries, parks, public recreational facilities, and all other public facilities in order to understand the day-to-day functional aspects of these public services. As a teacher, I always told parents that it is especially important for them to visit the schools that their children will attend long before their children actually go to that school. As a taxpayer, everyone has the right to go and observe the public schools in order to observe how they operate. If parents attend their public school on a variety of different occasions as a volunteer in a variety of capacities, they will be able to truly see the genuine daily operations of the school. As a result, they will also become aware of opportunities to engage and may also be encouraged to engage in some decision making and governance. Parents can volunteer to be involved with Parent-Teacher-Organizations (PTOs), or parents can volunteer to help teachers run photocopies, help teachers create bulletin boards, help students one-on-one in the classroom, or a parent could volunteer to read a story to a classroom of students during a lunch or study period. As a teacher, I had a parent who came in once a week and read novels to my middle-school students. After a period of time, she became a volunteer for others, and eventually she became a person who worked with parents and teachers in decision-making, and ultimately she worked on the shared leadership committee and became involved in school-governance.

$2.19