Providing Meaningful Family-School Relationships

During ED’s back-to-school bus tour, Secretary Duncan stated that, “parents have to be part of the solution. Parental engagement must help increase student achievement.” To accomplish this goal, the department is spanning the country to host parent forums in partnership with states, districts, schools, organizations, associations, colleges, universities and businesses.

A parent arrives at the Garland parent forum.

Parents Arrive at the Garland Parent Forum

In late October, ED joined the Garland Independent School District in Garland, Texas, and the Garland Area Alliance of Black School Educators for a parent forum to provide parents with information, strategies, and resources to help increase their child’s educational achievement. A few of the tips on how parents can be part of the solution discussed during the forum include:

    • Listen to your children. Develop a closer relationship with your children by giving them your full attention.  Listen to his/her conversation.  They may reveal concerns and fears of which you are not aware.
    • Ask for help from the classroom teacher. There may be subject topics you and your child need clarification.  Call or write the teacher for an appointment where you both can receive assistance.
    • Email your child’s teacher if your child is having a problem. An email provides documentation of contact. Long emails are dreaded and often not read.  Keep them concise and clear.
    • For teachers, administrators, and school support staff, be sensitive to the needs of the parents. There may be some parents who speak no or very little English.  Find ways to reach out to those parents. They, too, wish to be partners in their child’s learning.

Over 500 parents, community and faith-based representatives, and school district personnel attended the forum. One administrator who attended the forum stated that the forum had prompted him “to do more. I need to thank my parents more for the things they do [at school and at home].”

Secretary Duncan is in Mason, Ohio, today to hold discussions with parents and school officials about programs to promote excellence in education, expand job growth and invest in the economy.

Carrie Jasper

Carrie Jasper works in the Office of Communications and Outreach


  1. I appreciated the reminder to school personnel that not all parents are fluent in English. I would like to add that it is important to remember that differences in culture and cultural expectations can be confusing for parents and teachers alike. As a former ESL and bilingual teacher, I spend a great deal of time seeking to establish relationships with my students’ families. Out of those relationships, we were able to learn from each other.

  2. What I have learned after over six+ years of trying to get an appropriate education for my learning disabled child, deemed of average intelligence by his psychologist, is that if a school is determined to ignore his potential nothing a parent can do will persuade them to utilize methods to access that potential. The school has no problem in consigning my son to a life of reliance on the system, lack of independence, unproductivity and shame at being disabled. The real shame is that, if the school cared enough to try to teach him appropriately, this could all be avoided. They can’t even be bothered to teach him, at age 15, to read. I have been nice and cooperative and tried to be collaborative, but the school sees that as a sign of submission and takes advantage of it.

  3. Interesting. I see three action items for parents and one soft-pedaled call for schools to “be sensitive”, yet the topic is successful parent engagement in schools. Out of 500 attendees, we should be encouraged that one administrator felt a need “to do more”?

    Parent engagement is crucial, but it comes from a two-way partnership. Schools MUST learn how to build structural change that makes parent engagement a *given*, not something to periodically ponder. Parents are transient, the schools are the constant. The burden lies with the schools to continuously teach parents how to be effective advocates and partners.

  4. I share the believe that parents are crucial to a child academic success. However, i would like to stress for more programs that address the illiteracy and language issues of Hispanics parents at our public school system. We need to address the educational gap of the whole family in order to see real results in Hispanic children achievement.

  5. This is great. I sure hope all schools have received this. I don’t think teachers pay too much attention to parents.

    • I don’t think schools should have to do more to help children I think they need to do less and force parents to be parents. It is not the schools job to raise our children it is our job. I have grown so tired of parents crying for schools to provide more and more programs that keep children in school longer that they should be. If your child cannot read well than take the time to sit and read with them every night, if they cannot spell well than have them write over and over quiz them when they are done. Check into how children were taught way back in the day, they were smarter not learning how to test better. Bottom line be the parent the school should not be.

    • As with all comments, I think we need to remember that they are specific to the person that shares them. There is not a generalization that is a one-size-fits-all.
      All in support for parent-schools educating children as a team, say, “aye”…

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