Corporate sponsorship of public education has become an incredible boost for districts trying to meet stricter federal and state mandates on tight budgets. Organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Ford Foundation have invested billions of dollars in the nation’s public schools. While this is essential, the Sacramento Schools are focusing on an even more important partner in public education. The Parents.
Importance of Parent Involvement in Sacramento Schools
Sacramento Public Schools are under the usual pressure to raise test scores, meet budget requirements, and improve graduation rates of its students. And there are many methods that they are using to do it. But a look at the parent education program of the Sacramento Schools highlights an awareness of the importance of the home environment that often gets lost amidst the frenzy for higher test scores. Numerous studies have proven the correlation between parent education, involvement, and socio-economic status to student academic success. And recent attention on the alarming achievement gap between minority and white students is warranted. But where does the solution begin?
For the Sacramento Schools- it begins at home. Teachers in the Sacramento Schools are quick to point out that, as early as the pre-school years, an involved parent has a direct impact on a child’s success in school. Parents who don’t speak English, are high school drop-outs, or have financial problems are less able to support their children.
Programs for Parents at the Sacramento Schools
The Parent Support Services of the Sacramento Schools offers a variety of programs to improve parenting skills, help parents understand the educational system, teach English skills to speakers of foreign languages, and assist parents with skills needed to create a stronger family unit.
The first way of connecting parents with the Sacramento Schools is Parenthaven, an educational television show that parents can access without even stepping foot outside of their home. However, the goal of Sacramento Schools is to attract parents to the schools. The Parent Project Jr.® and the Parent Project Sr.® are classes offered to teach parents methods for improving family communications, and working with “strong-willed or out of control children.” The junior class is for parents of 5-10 year olds, and focuses on choosing appropriate friends, family communication, and improving school performance, among other topics. Some of the issues addressed in the senior classes are dealing with children who hit or use drugs, gang involvement, and truancy.
Another outreach program is the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project. This is a joint effort of the local teacher’s union, a faith based community group, and the Sacramento Schools. The goal is to get past the blame and distrust that often exists between faculty and low-income families. Another community-based program for parents in the Sacramento Schools is Parent University. Over 70 different classes on topics from money management to family arts appreciation are offered throughout the year.
While high socio-economic status has always been associated with student achievement in the Sacramento Schools, administrators acknowledge that the education and involvement that comes with that status is more important that the actual income of a family. The Sacramento Schools is making a wise, long-term investment into the success of its students, by putting a focus on their most important partners- the parents.