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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Voice Ends Involvement Ends

This post is in response to a tweet by @Mrwejr  about an article by Jane Steffenhagen from the  Report Card in the Vancouver Sun about parent involvement in school/education. It is about a school board not dealing with a parent advisory group because it did not have representation from enough schools. Should there be qualifications on representation? This is more from an Ontario perspective.

The Ontario Education Act provides guidelines/outlines how School's Advisory/Community Councils and Board's Parent Involvement Committees are to be structured and function. There is flexibility on the composition/representation on the councils/committees. The Act does state that the majority of members must be parents and what constitutes a quorum. I guess it would be within the by-laws and procedures to determine how the councils/committees would determine minimum representation and how it would function below this level. Does it still have a voice?

On School Councils do two or even one parent give voice? Why is there only one voice? Are there other avenues to provide input? Is the input appreciated or just participation show dressing? Ever School  and community is different so every school council is going to be different. Are school councils a voice or action? Each school council must find their way. A voice is a voice but is it representative?

Parent Involvement Committees (PIC) are officially new to Boards although they may have existed previously in some boards in another form. PICs must be clear on their mandate and not to create another level of bureaucracy. Boards can determine how parent representation is determined on the PIC. Is it by selection board wide or by regions? Are members elected by regions or schools? Or is it who volunteers? Are these members to represent their own views or those views of their school or region? Ultimately it should be what is best for all. As with school councils when does representation/voice not be representative? Why is their no representation/voice? What Are PICs To Do?

There is no secret success that works for all School Councils and Parent Involvement Committees. Each has their own strengths and visions. The sharing of best practices and ideas can only help parents that want to be involved. I will leave you with this post by @SheilaSpeaking 'That's It I'm Done'

Don't worry I will be returning to this topic and related ones in the future. This is an area that deserves much attention.  Robert

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Questions on Engaging/Involving

I will apologize if this blog jumps around or repeats thoughts from previous blogs or seems like a rant. I am writing about parent involvement in education, again.

Where do we start? Parents. Teachers. School. Board. Ministry.

Are these the kinds of Parent Involvement (school) we want? Ivy League Minded Mom Sues Preschool & Fast Tracking to Kindergarten . Is Preschool Shouldn't be Like School more to your version. Parent philosophy on schools and learning vary greatly and so do their thoughts on parent involvement.

The first question one should maybe ask is "What role does the parent want to play in their child's learning/education?" Are they supportive or inquisitive? Does the parent trust that the teacher/school is doing their job properly? Does the parent trust that their child is interesting in learning? What drives the child to learn? Depending how these questions are answered is a starting point of engaging involvement. Does the parent have available time?  Does the parent even have enough understanding to assist the child in education/learning. Involving Parents in School - The Family Path highlights and initiative taking to entice parents to participate.

The second question should be "What is the communication between the parent/child and the teacher/school?" Do they know what is being taught? Why is it being taught? How is it being taught? Is the only communication when the report card comes and the parent/teacher interview? Who should initiate this communication, the teacher or the parent? Whether the child is underachieving or overachieving a line of open communication can help to solve problems or potential problems. Timely dialogue about assessment (not testing) is imperative. Is the parent welcome in the classroom? Do they have the time? When one knows what is happening, it makes things easier. Having Parent Support

When one talks about involvement at school or board level it sometimes refers to input on school/board policies and procedures. This is one of the roles of SACs/SCCs. Don't assume all the facts are known. Explain the reasoning or rationale behind why a decision/policy is being made. Do parents feel comfortable with this level of involvement?

As for the Ministry I hope they continue to develop and promote parent involvement. Human Capital

I have posed a lot of question here and I could have asked many more. Like many people I am trying to wrap my head around them to get the answers so that parent involvement is something all can do and want to do.
Parent Involvement - What's Your View

Parent involvement will always be a topic of mine as we try to make the best use of what each of us has to offer.