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'Parents Are Always the Constant'

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Our babies become students, our students become our future. All parents--and the entire community--must accept their role in the educational process. That means participation in all aspects of schooling.

The bottom line for any parent-involvement program is simple: improved student achievement and increased graduation rates, resulting in better-qualified young people who are ready to compete in the workplace.

Here in Chicago, we have such a program. A program clearly defined by state law. A program based on site-based management of schools in a decentralized system--one that doesn't render the sub-district and the central administration impotent.

The law creates a Local School Council to govern each school, made up of parents, community members, teachers, and the principal.

They are charged with key management responsibilities: reviewing principal performance contracts, approving the annual budget in consultation with the principal, evaluating curricula, working with administrators to create and approve a school-improvement plan, and drafting an annual report.

This kind of parent involvement is like no other in the country. Instead of beginning with a limited number of schools in a pilot program, the law made drastic changes in the entire Chicago Public Schools District 299.

This total structure supports a new kind of parent involvement, where parents have a real voice in decisionmaking.

What we hope to create in District 299 is a system where all the components that make up a school must be considered, weighed, and factored in as we try to properly chart the educational destiny of our children.

In this equation, parents are always the constant.

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