This is what I call an "as you already know" story. It's about parental involvement in a child's education, which, as you already know, is very important.
The point of the story is to encourage you to attend a D.C. public schools parent conference this Friday and Saturday. Good parents probably don't need such prodding. But, as you already know, some of us could use a little extra encouragement.
According to the National Committee for Citizens in Education, most parents want their children to earn higher grades and test scores, develop positive attitudes and behavior as well as maintain long-term achievement.
As if you didn't already know.
But to reap these kinds of rewards, parents must find ways to give more of their time -- and schools must help them.
"The conference features parents and school officials who give their views on how the system works and what can be done to make it user-friendly," said Connie Spinner, director of parent involvement and community services for the D.C. public schools. "The conference has been designed by parents to help empower parents."
In a study entitled, "The Evidence Continues to Grow . . . Parent Involvement Improves Student Achievement," Anne Henderson, of the national committee, has documented that high school seniors from economically disadvantaged homes perform better if they have attended preschool programs with high parental involvement.
In other words, the earlier a parent gets involved, the better. But sometimes there just doesn't seem to be enough time to help the child. Being a parent is hard, as you already know. In fact, many D.C. public school students come from single-parent homes where the mother works two minimum-wage jobs and must exert all of her energy just to get the child fed and dressed for school.
"We already know what happens when a school staff and principal do not come together and help the parent get involved," Spinner said. "Achievement plummets, dropout rates increase and the overall school environment suffers."
The parent conference will be held at Eastern High School, at 17th and East Capitol streets NE. It begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday.
The District school system offers some marvelous examples of what happens when parents truly participate in their children's schoolwork. At Harris Elementary in Northeast Washington, parents with children who are "at risk" are given homework assignments to complete with their children. They are also given computers to take home, which results in computer literacy among parents and children.
At Raymond Elementary, the school principal has created a career ladder for parents, which allows them to go into the school as volunteers and receive a teaching aide stipend.
"Sometimes the difference between a parent becoming involved in a school or not is having enough money for bus fare or to get their clothes cleaned," Spinner said. "The stipend helps out with those kinds of matters."
But stipend or not, parents should not let petty concerns about hair, clothes and speech keep them out of their child's school. Unfortunately, many otherwise loving and caring parents simply lose their nerve when it comes to being a public parent. Shy and self-conscious, they are too afraid to show up at a public gathering that is in the best interest of their loved ones.
As you already know, it is the youngster who suffers most from such behavior. A parent who cannot develop self-confidence is not likely to raise a child with any.
Do you know what Comer and Sage models are? You should. These are two revolutionary approaches to parental involvement and shared responsibility that help parents overcome their fears of teachers and schools. Both are being field tested in schools throughout the District.
Do you know which model is most likely to improve the way teachers talk to you when you visit your child's classroom?
If you attend the parent conference, you'll find out.