Stakeholder Starting Points

What is the role of parents and communities in educating children and improving schools?

Local Leaders
& Administrators

The focus is mainly on parent involvement. The vast majority of principals say that engaging parents is difficult. A principal in rural North Dakota spoke about the need for more connections between parents and schools: I think if we can get people who have young children to come into the school and be involved in it if it can start with our preschool parents, if they're involved in the school from the get-go, it tends to be longer lasting. . . . I think that [personal connections between the school and parents] are good indicators [of quality]. I think that the relationship is huge.


Again, the focus is mainly on parents. Nearly all teachers say its absolutely essential for parents to emphasize the importance of education and reinforce school rules for student behavior. And 84% say family involvement strongly impacts student achievement. At the same time, more than 7 in 10 say its difficult for schools to get parents and communities involved. A Chicago-area parochial teacher said: It starts at home. We do not have the parent involvement that we need. In New Orleans, a teacher wanted to reach out beyond parents. Maybe if we could make a better connection between the school and some of the community outreach organizations, businesses, maybe that would draw the parents in.

Parents & The Broader Public
Most Americans believe families have more influence on a childs educational success than the schools, and by overwhelming margins. This theme emerges repeatedly in our research. A New Jersey residents comment is typical: The parents are the most important educators. However, the publics actual connection to public schools is more mixed. About half of Americans say they have visited a school in the last year, and most say they know at least one public school teacher well. About one in four Americans says they have volunteered at a school in the past year. Help with homework is the most common way for parents to be involved in their childrens education.

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