Families and Parents: Part 2

I wanted to follow up on Ken Bedell’s post last week about the importance of families and parents in education. I feel particularly passionate about this, because my family has been tremendously influential in my success, both in school and as I moved into education as my career. I’ve also heard from lots of you out in the field about how strongly you feel about the importance of parental involvement, and I want to assure you that the Department agrees!

In fact, both President Obama and Secretary Duncan have expressed their support for a culture of responsibility where parents take an active role in their children’s education.  Secretary Duncan has stated that everyone must take responsibility for the education of America’s children, and that parents have the most important role described, as well as his desire for all parents to be real partners in education with their children’s teachers, from cradle to career. In this partnership, students and parents should feel connected, teachers should feel supported, and parents should feel welcome in schools.

So, here’s what the Department is proposing to support this type of parent and family engagement. In May 2010, Secretary Duncan announced the Education Department’s proposal to double the amount of federal dollars set aside for family involvement — from 1 percent to 2 percent of Title I dollars, or a total of roughly $270 million. The Department also proposed an optional Family Engagement and Responsibility Fund that states can create with the use of $145 million in existing Title I funds. The fund would be used to create a state-led competition that would support outstanding local family involvement programs.

And above all, we’ll continue to work on ways to encourage best practice sharing between teachers, principals, and schools. We hope you’ll join us in building this community of learning and practice.