Teaching & Learning Update
Home-Visit Program Sees New Life Through Private Funders
Now that one of the more innovative home-visit programs for teachers and students has weathered California’s budget crisis, its leaders are aiming to rebuild relationships in the midst of national discussions on high school reform and the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The 50,000-student Sacramento City Unified district began home visits in 1998 as a way for teachers to communicate better with parents and understand students’ diverse needs. ("Home Visits Lead to Stronger Ties, Altered Perceptions," Dec. 1, 1999.)
The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project later became a model for a $15 million statewide program. But those funds, which paid for teachers’ overtime, were cut a few years later as California faced severe fiscal constraints.
Nevertheless, the program has survived on grants and private money for the past two years, reports Carrie Rose, the executive director of the program. Teachers had to cut back on the number of visits, and programs in some schools were discontinued because of a lack of money.
After the No Child Left Behind Act went into effect and schools were required to document parent participation, the program got a second wind, Ms. Rose said. Now, the program is plotting a future in high schools. Using money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other sources, the project’s founders are building a model for high schools that they say could be copied across the country.
Although high schools in California and other states have attempted home-visit programs, they often have lacked structure and seemed overwhelming to teachers, Ms. Rose said.
The new Sacramento model will focus on weaving home visits into other high school initiatives, such as small learning communities, Ms. Rose said.
Vol. 25, Issue 06, Page 13