Survey shows increased parental involvement in school activities

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    By Irinna Schwenke

    Parents are going back to school – but not in the traditional way.

    The National Education Goals Panel recently released results from a national survey showing almost two-thirds of the nation’s parents getting involved in school activities.

    These activities include attending general school meetings or events, serving on committees or volunteering at local schools, said Emily Wurtz, senior education associate at the organization.

    “Instead of being cheerleaders on the sidelines, parents are out there playing the game,” Wurtz said.

    President George Bush created the Panel in 1990. It is composed of eight governors, four members of Congress, four state legislators and two members appointed by the president, she said.

    The committee was set in action to evaluate what individual states should do to improve national education standards, Wurtz said.

    Data compiled from parents of children in grades 3-12 make up the survey results.

    “In the annual report we like to take one piece of information and invite people to look at how it fits into the big picture of education. Each bit of information tells a story in its own right,” Wurtz said.

    The National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education advocates the involvement of parents and families in their children’s education, according to the news release.

    “We are on a mission to make family-school partnerships an ongoing, practical reality. We’re working to promote family school partnership in every school in America,” said Sue Ferguson, chair for the coalition.

    In Provo, there has been an increase in public attendance at the monthly school board meetings, said Mossi White, president of the Provo School Board.

    “There were close to 150 people at our last board meeting. Parents are coming out and voicing their opinions about what they think their children should be doing in the classroom,” White said.

    Although there has been an increase in board meeting attendance, White said an even larger increase in community involvement is needed.

    “A successful partnership between parents and teachers ultimately benefits the children. If we could get more people involved, we would increase student success 100 fold,” she said.

    Some school districts have taken parental participation a step further by using technology.

    The Provo School District created a Web site to keep teachers, parents and students on track with district news, White said.

    “The Web site has enhanced the relationship between parents and schools in order to increase the learning experience of our students.

    “It analyzes student performance, updates parents on district events and keeps the community up to date. It has truly been a blessing,” she said.

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