PAA makes recommendations to feds on ESSA parent involvement support center selection

Parents Across America comments on implementation of the federal Statewide Family Engagement Center Program

May 2018

Parents Across America (PAA) is a national network of active public school parents, with 50 chapters in 26 states. Our combined years of experience and our expertise as highly involved and well-informed parents make us uniquely qualified to provide recommendations for the implementation of the federal Statewide Family Engagement Center program (SFECs), and we appreciate the opportunity to do so.

Federal education law has long recognized the value of parent and family engagement in our children’s education. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) maintains the key components of previous federal education law in this area, including establishing certain parental rights, requiring a variety of involvement activities, and providing funding for programs to support these rights and activities.

Unfortunately, too many of these programs have been ineffective over the years. For example, most PAA leaders either have been unaware of the existence of federal Parent Information and Resource Center programs, or have not benefited from their services. School district programs may have reached some parents, but many tend to focus more on compliance rather than on providing the resources and support that would successfully reach and engage significant numbers of parents. Similarly, many parents go through their children’s entire K-12 school years without having any contact with or knowledge of these programs.

In order to most effectively engage the greatest number of parents and families, and minimize waste, PAA recommends the following key elements of program implementation:

1. Programs that fully inform parents of their rights under ESSA, and also address the specific needs of diverse communities for relevant information, skill-building, and leadership development.

2. Specific funding and support for SFECs to employ best practices in reaching out to and engaging parents.

3. A rigorous monitoring structure for SFECs that sets high expectations for effective outreach programming; an equally strong evaluation system developed with the input of parents; and a transparent, accountable complaint process for parents to access in cases where the program fails to function appropriately.

4. An ombudsman-type function that receives parental complaints and concerns and is able to direct them to appropriate agencies or organizations.

5. Fully-empowered parent/family committees or other structures with real authority to oversee and impact SFEC operations.

PAA has prepared a number of useful materials relevant to this topic including:

Parents Rights and the Value of Parent Involvement”

What is a Quality Education”

Education Inequities and what we can do about them”

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

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