Images of nurtured seedlings growing into huge, strong trees or of a house with a strong foundation where the furnishings include love, respect, confidence, and communication might not represent parent engagement in education at first glance. But for a group of parents at our Affiliate Southwest Key in Austin, Texas, this is what came to mind. The group was part of the Padres Comprometidos parent engagement program meeting late last month. We asked them to think of images depicting what it means to be involved in their children’s education, and all of the representations depicted a cradle-to-career path that parents aspire for their children.
Through generous support from State Farm, NCLR is able to reach more than 1,000 parents per year through the program. Padres Comprometidos gives parents the support and tools needed to engage with their children’s schools. Often, language and cultural differences keep many parents from becoming involved. And, for some of them, their economic background also keeps them from engaging.
For other parents, their own failures in school might result in feelings of inadequacy that keep them away. Some may feel the school has a negative perception of them, so they do not feel welcomed. And others simply don’t know how to become involved in their children’s school or education. Schools, however, play a major role in student success when they provide families with information and strategies to help their children succeed.
The Padres Comprometidos group at Southwest Key has grown over the years. At last month’s gathering, parents learned more about the Texas Education Agency Accountability Rating System. They also read through some of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills test and discussed how the standards guide their children’s classroom instruction. This captured their attention and they immediately made a personal connection to the text.
“Students analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about expository text and provide evidence from the reading to support their understanding,” said one parent.
This parent understood that they were analyzing a piece of informational text about the state standards. They could now use that text to support an argument about the student’s academic progress. This is just one example of how Padres Comprometidos is empowering parents across the country to engage with their children’s schools and advocate for them.
At the end of the session the parents felt more confident because they had a better understanding of the state standards and how their children’s school was performing. The parent engagement representations created at the beginning of the day suddenly became a testament to what the parents were already doing to ensure that their children followed a cradle-to-career path.