Valuing Parent Concerns Is Our Top Priority for Equity Work in Public Schools

Most parents in America are concerned with the academic learning loss many children are experiencing during the pandemic. As this is a concern of all parents, there are grave inequities around learning loss that connect to the age old issues of class and race. It’s a concern that can’t simply be talked about in equity conversations. 

Valuing parent concerns is our equity work! 

I’m encouraging parents to ask the right questions:

  1. What does equity mean for your child(ren)?
  2. How does this align with the equity work of your public school district?
  3. What money is being used to support the issue/equity work that will benefit your child(ren)? 

According to The Education Trust, “38% of low-income families and 29% of families of color are concerned about access to distance learning because they don’t have reliable internet at home!”

Equity works includes valuing parent concerns by ensuring they have the resources needed to begin and continue effective educational practices at home.

Our goal as educators, parents, and stakeholders is to help expose and eliminate barriers to the work of equity. Equity work can’t take place if there isn’t an investment in family engagement through general fund dollars in public schools. 

Most public school district’s equity and engagement work is funded through federal dollars that prohibits many resources needed to truly fill inequitable educational gaps and access.

Learning loss isn’t a new issue! 

The Education Trust also highlights that parents and families do  not know what they can do to combat these issues. 

I believe that our public school boards and educational leaders should be presenting school and student data to show where gaps in learning are taking place and quickly identify strategies to support different educational outcomes. 

The data reflects that 88% of parents reporting that their school district is currently using or will soon use remote or distance learning, parents with a household income of less than $50,000 per year are less likely to say distance learning has been successful (52% rate the experience at an 8-10 out of 10) than parents who earn more than $50,000 per year (59%).

Regardless of the model used (i.e. in person learning, virtual or hybrid), students and families have to be engaged effectively and educators have to be trained to engage parents in ways to help successfully continue education at home. 

The work of equity comes into play with ensuring school staff and educators are up to date on best practices to engage every parent or guardian.  The Parent Liaison position in public schools is funded through Title I. 

This helps with academic support for families but what about the wrap around services needed for social, emotional, mental health? 

Data reflects that 4 out of 5 (82%) Latinx and 3 out of 4 (76%) Black parents are concerned they do not have the resources or supplies to help their child stay academically on track. 

Recently in Atlanta, APS released graduation data reflecting much growth in student graduation rates. The other part to the student success is making sure the knowledge gained can be successfully applied as well. For example, students being academically on track and on grade level is different from data reflected in actual graduation rates. 

Valuing parent concerns includes making sure that parents, families and stakeholders understand the data being presented on student success. I would even argue that student success and achievement are two different things in which success is connected to the overall wellness and development of a child and achievement is too often connected to high stakes testing. 


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