A good source of information is the National Committee for Citizens in Education, a Columbia-based that works to improve the quality of schools through increased public involvement.
The group runs a toll-free telephone service that offers parents information on their rights in the schools, school-related issues and problems, and how to organize to improve their schools; 800-638-9675; in Maryland and Alaska, (301) 997-9300.
The NCCE publishes a newsletter, "Network," six times a year for $12. Call or write: NCCE, 10840 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 301, Columbia, Md., 21044-3199. The organization also publishes a host of books and pamphlets. To order, include $1 in postage for orders of $5 or less; $2 postage for orders more than $5. Titles include:
"Your School: How Well Is It Working? A Citizen's Guide to School Evaluation," $3.50.
"Parents Organizing to Improve Schools," $3.50.
"Beyond the Bake Sale: An Educator's Guide to Working With Parents," $8.95.
"Parents Can Understand Testing," $3.50.
"Parents, Schools and the Law," $10.95.
"Parent Rights Card," 25 cents.
"Annual Education Checkup," a checklist for ensuring your child's progress in school, 25 cents.
From other sources:
"Looking In on Your School: A Workbook for Improving Public Education," $1. National P-TA, 700 North Rush St., Dept. WP, Chicago 60611. (312) 787-0977.
"Plain Talk About Tests," a four-page guide published in English or Spanish by the Educational Testing Service and the National P-TA, available free through the National P-TA with a self-addressed, stamped business envelope.
"What Works: Research About Teaching and Learning," second edition, U.S. Department of Education handbook for parents and teachers. Write: Consumer Information Center, Dept. 198-R, Pueblo, Colo. 81009, $3 check payable to "Superintendent of Documents."
Also, "Parents: Here's How to Make School Visits Work." Dept. 183-R, $1.
A Citizen's Notebook for Effective Schools," published by the Institute for Responsive Education, 605 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Mass. 02215, $20 with binder, order No. 21CD; $13 without binder, order No. 21CE.