Family engagement essential ingredient for student success! – Dr. Karen Mapp
President Trump recently signed a bill which continues funding for education through September 2017. As a member of the National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement, I am very concerned about how this will effect the ability for schools across the nation to effectively engage families and communities. There is no school turn around without the involvement and inclusion of our student’s families and communities. The bill’s low priority for family engagement and it’s effect on student achievement; especially in schools that have various socioeconomic and language barriers, is concerning. In doing this work over the last 6 years, how school’s engage families hasn’t been a top priority when it should be. This is attributed to the need for more support around coherent instructional guides, professional capacity, strong parent community ties, student centered learning and leadership. These area are supported by State based Family Engagement Centers that support local Districts, communities and schools. President Trump’s new bill will include a modest increase in Title I funding but it does not fund Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs). If there’s not funding to support state family engagement centers, then there’s a huge gap in the transfer of resources and training around the work.
One of the biggest challenges in family and community engagement is that the funding comes with so much red tape, schools aren’t able to effectively reach all families and communities. Family and Community Engagement Specialists and Advocates are encouraging Districts across the Nation to look at other options for funding this work to truly help drive student academic success for every child. State Family Engagement Centers have always been the hub of this work including resources, networking and professional development support. We should also remember that within the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) legislation, family engagement is highlighted. It’s great that the work is included, but how do we move from simply being an highlighted area to that of priority? We can do this through:
If funding for Family Centers goes out the window, so does the effective continuation of education at home. For context, SFECs are the evolution of what used to be the $40 million Parental Information Resource Centers (PIRCs), which were abruptly de-funded in 2011. In most Districts, the Parent Liaisons/Coordinators is optional position for the school but each school should have a Parent/Family Center that helps bridge the gap between school and home. State, District and school based Family Engagement Centers are key to bridging the gap between home and school is because it allows and area dedicated specifically to helping families connect to the academic goals of the school and ways that families can be empowered at home to help build successful pathways for their child(ren). We need SFEC’s to give local LEA’s an example of how the work of family and community engagement can impact student achievement goals. The current legislated funding for SFECs is only $10 million which nationally needs to be improved. The newly signed bill now extends $0 in funding for capacity building around family engagement. State level Family centers are important because they are resource areas for schools, advocates parents and children to learn, grow, interact and become empowered in various academic, social, civic, financial and wellness areas.
Here’s what we can expect in public and choice schools if there’s no support and funding for this work.
- Further decrease in literacy rates
- Decrease in consistent and regular attendance
- Detachment of family presence and engagement in schools
- Increase in student behavior issues
- Increase in student drop out
- Decrease in parent preparedness for school
- Disconnection of family learning from Pre K to grade school
- Increase in the gap of families connecting to college & career readiness