Empowering Parents to Support Their Children’s Education

On Friday, July 24, David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, held a press call to discuss two recently released tools to empower parents in their efforts to support their children’s education: a parent checklist, and a set of rights that all children in the U.S. should expect to experience in school.
Johns cited the need for students to learn in schools that are safe, engaged, and supported; and to connect individuals and communities of caring and concerned adults with such schools. He described the new resources released by the Department of Education and said they could be used by any caring adult involved in supporting a child’s learning.

[Related: We Need to Stop Putting Our Children in Front of Screens]

Developed by America Achieves, National Council of La Raza, National PTA, and UNCF, the checklist comprises questions parents can ask at their child’s school (Is my child getting a great education? Is my child engaged and learning every day?), and also provides a list of next steps along with several Web-based resources. It is also available in Spanish.

Supporting the checklist is a set of rights also developed by the national organizations mentioned above: Your child has a right to be prepared for success in college, careers, and life through:

  1. High quality preschool (particularly for African American youngsters, who are least likely to be enrolled in high quality early care and education programs, Johns said.)
  2. High, challenging standards and engaging teaching and leadership in safe, supported, well-resourced schools (Johns added, “High expectations but also high support to meet those expectations.”)
  3. An affordable, quality college degree

The organizations are not only disseminating the checklist to parents, they are training them on its use as well. The checklist is also being distributed via social media, through community-based organizations such as the National Urban League, and through stakeholders such as UNCF.

Johns noted that the checklist and set of rights are for school administrators to use as well. ”School leaders, educators, teachers, superintendents–have a responsibility and now an additional set of tools to make sure engagement is collaborative, ongoing, and mutually inclusive to make these relationships happen and to foster active participation in schools and communities.”

Print out the checklist here and use it to help develop relationships with your child’s teachers this year.