Reinventing the Parent-Teacher Paradigm

August 9, 2012 at 6:59 AM Leave a comment

Parent Trigger laws must be seen as the last straw. The current parent-teacher paradigm is broken in many districts. Whether parents are demanding an elevated role in education reform due to old frustrations or a new interest in their feedback, they are a force to be reckoned with. Rather than fight them in the political arena, education leaders need to welcome their participation. Parents must become active players in school governance, innovation, and improvement. And they need to share in the success of their children.

The existing parent-teacher paradigm is broken. There is more antagonism than partnership on balance, and the children are suffering. Players are choosing sides and behaving erratically as they try to follow power shifts rather than maintain a clear vision of what is right. It is time to stop the music and engage the full education community – students, educators, and parents – in structural solutions.

The most desirable outcomes in elementary and secondary education are summarized below…

  • Students are successful as measured by attendance, performance, completion, advancement, and satisfaction.
  • Students grow and mature consistently along expected physical, social, and emotional benchmarks.
  • Each school is culturally rich and inclusive with a strong vision for future leadership among its participants.
  • Educators match pedagogy to the needs of fully engaged, goal-oriented students.
  • Families are partners in the educational process, fully informed about opportunities, and having voice in outcomes as well as chances to get involved for their own benefit.
  • The school community benefits from a success cycle that demonstrates excellence and builds on that legacy as participants are attracted in perpetuity…students, educators, and community leaders from the larger urban context.

To support this future vision, existing systems must be updated…

  • Ensuring the status of parents and community members in school governance as voting members on boards at the district and school levels.
  • Creating a customer focus among educators, and imbedding student/parent feedback loops in the school systems.
  • Elevating the community liaison/leader to equality with instructional leadership in school administration.
  • Inclusion of the parent community in programs for success…community outreach for education and access for non-educational support services.

The change process must be about facilitating parent involvement, which may mean removal of obstacles created by toxic habits of the past. This legacy must be assessed for such patterns as stonewalling in lieu of information; inconvenience in lieu of access; or outright punishment of parents for student discipline issues in lieu of partnership for proactive intervention for success. Sometimes the first step toward a promising future sounds a little like, “I’m sorry…and I need your help.

Previous related posts…

Mayors and Parents Begging for New Education Leadership

#5 in Seven Keys to Education Reform

Engaging the School Community in the Project Management Approach to School Improvement

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Entry filed under: New Parent-Teacher Paradigm, School Leadership, School Transformation.

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