Engaging families in schools isn’t just my profession, it’s my passion. I’ve worked for many years helping children with learning disabilities, foster youth and migrant families, and I’ve seen the difference family engagement in education makes for these vulnerable children and communities.
Decades of research have confirmed that students whose parents are active participants in their learning have significantly better school and life outcomes. I’m thrilled that many welcome and needed changes have taken place to engage families in schools. Family engagement is now the law through the Local Control and Funding Formula and the related district accountability plans. But simply making family engagement the law doesn’t help school districts engage all parents, from all backgrounds, in all languages.
Something is still missing – funding.
That’s why California State PTA is sponsoring Assembly Bill 2680, a common-sense measure that calls for a one-time, $15-per-pupil investment by the state from Proposition 98 funds to ensure that local educational agencies measure meaningful and effective parent and family engagement. The Assembly Appropriations Committee is set to hear this and other funding proposals on Friday.
Family engagement may seem like something that should come naturally to all parents. But for English-language learners, foster parents, migrant families, new immigrants, refugees and others, it’s all too often an off-putting struggle. These parents want to support their children and want to have a voice in their education, but don’t know where to begin.
With research showing that schools would need to spend $1,000 more per pupil to reap the same gains in student achievement that an involved parent brings, AB 2680’s $15-per-pupil funding is a bargain.
California parents like me are working to secure funding that allows us to work together with schools as true partners for student success. And we’re not alone: While California State PTA is sponsoring this bill, the California Federation of Teachers, California School Boards Association, Education Trust-West, the Advancement Project, Public Advocates and Families In Schools have joined our effort.
We urge members of the Appropriations Committee to support AB 2680 for all of California’s children: Nothing is a wiser, more meaningful or more important investment.
Justine Fischer of Thousand Oaks is president of the California State PTA. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.