Archive for the 'Parent Advisory Councils' Category

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FUNCTIONS OF A PARENT ADVISORY COUNCIL

[From Education Advisory #11, Feb. 1982. These suggestions were made 25 years ago on how parent groups can be meaningfully engaged in schools. Hopefully most of these points apply today. Comments?]

Functions of a Parent Advisory Council

  1. School philosophy
  2. Program and curriculum priorities
  3. Discipline
  4. Innovative programs
  5. School Budget
  6. Parent education
  7. School facilities, grounds
  8. Safety programs
  9. School accreditation/evaluation
  10. Community use of facilities
  11. Route to follow for individual parent concerns, complaints
  12. Home-school communication
  13. Developing sense of community in the neioghborhood
  14. Drawing up parent expectations of school principal (especially useful to send to school board if new principal is in the works)
  15. Communication with the school board
  16. School learning climate
  17. Integration of ethnic, disabled and other special needs students
  18. Counselling, guidance, career planning
  19. Student service/learning experiences in community
  20. Reporting to parents

Remember: None of these activities are a substitute for the parent who wants to know, “How is my child really doing in school?” By monitoring #11 above, the parent group can feedback to administration whether parents feel their basic questions are being answered satisfactorily.

Projects for a Parent Group

[From Education Advisory #11, Feb. 1982. These are suggestions made 25 years ago about how parent groups can be meaningfully involved in their schools. Hopefully, most of these points apply today. Comments?]

A parent group can initiate, develop, help improve, co-sponsor with the school, a number of useful projects of value to students, parents and school.

  1. Block parent program
  2. Call-back program
  3. School directory
  4. School handbook
  5. Parent newsletter, separate from school newsletter
  6. Review of school philosophy, goals, programs
  7. Budget input on school discretionary funds
  8. Suggest parent involvement in school in-service programs, especially if interesting speakers invited
  9. Ensure trustees know your school; attend school board meetings
  10. Parent library
  11. Encourage parent attendance at education workshops
  12. Participate in district’s umbrella group (or help form one)
  13. Meaningful meetings
  14. Review junk/nutritious food ratio in cafeteria
  15. Review of parent group’s goals, philosophy
  16. Student scholarships, traditional and innovative awards
  17. Displays of student work, in school and community
  18. Parent volunteer program
  19. Parent questionnaire
  20. Writing style and standards handbook

Essential Features of a Parent Advisory Council

[This material is taken from Education Advisory #11, Feb. 1982. Please comment on present features of PAC’s. TA]

A. Parent as chairperson

Parent input to decision-making is best ensured by a group which maintains its integrity and credibility. If principal and staff are involved, they are generally non-voting and are there as a resource to the parents.

B. Representative of as broad a range of parents in the school as possible. Guard against single-interest parents domination of agenda and activities: a task committee may be indicated. Use class reps.

C. Open meetings, well advertised, and held when most parents can attend.

D. Quality, not quantity is important. The consultative role of a school with its parents can very well be handled by a small, credible group of parents who maintain the trust of parents and school. Though the ideal is to have well-attended meetings, don’t forget, the primary goal of a consultative group is to see that the parent point-of-view is considered in school decision-making.

E. Local school is the focus of the group. What is important to your parents? External agendas should not be entertained unless the parents agree they are pertinent. Parents, in their advisory role should make every effort to have as full information about school programs as possible. Regular reports from the principal and other staff member are desirable.

F. Participate in accreditation/evaluation process of school. Find out the status of the process in your school and plug in. Find out what follow-through resulted from the last report. Accreditation usually requests feedback about some of the following:

  • school-community relations
  • responsiveness to questions, concerns
  • character development
  • discipline
  • homework
  • reporting
  • strengths and weaknesses of the school

PARENT ADVISORY COUNCILS

PARENT ADVISORY COUNCILS A long history brings us to the year 2007 when parent advisory councils in BC schools are now more the norm than the exception. Provincial legislation authorizes their existence in public schools when parents organize and apply to constitute such a group. When my children became of school age they were enrolled in  1972 in a Vancouver school in an innovative program, an open-area school which was an adaptation of exciting programs in England at that time. Many parents traveled great distances to bring their children here because they too endorsed the idea of informal learning with exceptional teachers. (The teachers had spent a year in England.)

Some of these parents were members of an activist parent group, CARE (Citizen Action to Reform Education) which I readily joined because on the whole we saw parents being excluded from the substance of education. The existing PTA groups, because they included teachers, did not meet our group’s interests as they avoided curriculum and educational quality questions. However, in 1974, a research report on our school found a significant difference in performance between a control group and the students in our school. Other students were scoring “significantly better in reading, writing, and mathematics than did the pupils from the informal classes with an innovative program”. That spurred us, in 1975, to apply and receive a grant from the Secretary of State for a 3-year project:

  • To provide a consumer advisory service in education
  • To help equip parents with the information, skills, and confidence to effectively guide their children’s education
  • To encourage public involvement in the planning and delivery of educational services
  • To report on important issues and research findings in education
  • To generally advance the cause of education in an open society

Thus, Education Advisory was born. We held workshops, published newsletters and handbooks and distributed them across the province to parent groups. We generally tried to advance the rationale, models, skills and impetus for greater involvement of parents in their children’s education. I was the coordinator of this project, and as funding dried up, I continued on a voluntary basis for many years. My background included a teaching certificate, BA with a major in psychology, and work in youth counselling and psychological testing. We were never anti-teacher, but were critical of the system. Some of our member parents and friends were themselves teachers. Our feedback and research told us it was an unaware and sometimes defensive system which conspired to exclude parents from meaningful involvement. Our workshops and materials focused on developing skills and awareness. Our briefs and presentations sought parent involvement in developing criteria for principal selection, better teacher preparation for parent involvement, and structures for parental voice in school decision-making. If you read my blog so far, you will see that what I am doing now is downloading a lot of past material from Education Advisory and my own independent efforts. I recently retired from the work force, and as I clean house, I recognize that a lot of this material is too valuable to throw out. It might provide some memory and archives of the struggles parents went through in those days. There is no need to re-invent the wheel! I sure wish I had access to this kind of material when I was a young parent. Hopefully, it can be of help to current parents. I will continue posting material as I come across it, but would now welcome comments as to whether parents are indeed genuinely and effectively involved in their children’s education. How do they feel about themselves individually and about the legislation and machinery that have been set up for parent involvement?

WHY A PARENT GROUP IN EVERY SCHOOL

Education Advisory #11, Feb. 1982 was a handbook on

PARENT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEES.

[This material is page 1 from that issue 25 years ago. Comments and feedback are invited. TA]

Why do we need a parent group in every school?

  1. 95% of parents’ educational concerns relate to their own school.
  2. Research proves parent involvement in schools:

    • Improves student achievement
    • Aids school effectiveness
    • Contributes to professional satisfaction
    • Improves family competencies
    • Has a cumulative, positive effect on individuals and system

  1. The dynamics of education requires ongoing feedback from consumers (parents, students, recent graduates) to ensure relevancy and responsiveness.
  2. Grass roots participation at the local school level strengthens the practice and the teaching of democratic decision-making.
  3. Public confidence increases with parent satisfaction and support of schools.
  4. Parent consultative committees in a local school are an effective vehicle to help achieve parent participation on a number of levels:

    • The individual level (parent-child-school relationships)
    • The school-support level (parents patronize school events, assist programs, volunteer, etc.)
    • The consultative level (feedback on substantive matters, e.g., curriculum, courses, learning conditions, discipline, etc.)
    • The system level (parents as individuals or groups relate to policy questions and other educational matters at the school board level and beyond)