Families & the Community

Maryland Parents Make Case for More Involvement, State Board Seat

By Vaishali Honawar — March 08, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Maryland parents are asking the state for a more prominent role in setting public school policy, including two designated seats on the state school board.

In preliminary recommendations released late last month, the Maryland Parent Advisory Committee, set up in 2003 by state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, asks for several steps, ranging from improved communication between parents and teachers and school officials, to parent representation on all education-related task forces or committees formed by the state and school districts.

One of the recommendations would require the state to work with local school systems and schools to produce and administer to parents a satisfaction survey on family involvement. Results from the annual survey would be factored into school administrators’ and staff members’ performance evaluations.

Esther Parker, who heads the advisory committee and is also the president of the Maryland state PTA, said that while state school board members have experience and expertise in public school issues, “parents are the ones in trenches, the ones coming home to children with report cards,” and therefore understand first-hand the issues facing children in schools.

She said that although parents play a prominent role in some districts—the Montgomery County school board, for instance, aims to strengthen family-school relationships—the level differs from area to area.

“The state does not have any criteria that says, ‘This is how we measure parent involvement,’ ” Ms. Parker said. “If you are saying we want parent involvement to be a goal and we need to measure it, then everybody needs to start from the same playing field.”

The advisory committee, which has 150 members from Maryland’s 24 school districts, will next hold public hearings in each district before making the report final. Ms. Parker said the panelists expect to present their final recommendations to the state board in August.

National Precedent?

Some of the recommendations, including the parent positions on the state’s 12-member board of education, would require legislation. Such action could take several years, but it already has Ms. Grasmick’s blessing.

“I believe we’ve paid lip service by saying parents are partners in the education process, but we have never taken steps to ensure that this would happen,” Ms. Grasmick said in an interview. “Having parents on the state board of education is very important. That’s the entity charged with the legal responsibility of our children’s education.”

Creating parent positions on the state board could catapult Maryland to a unique status in the country.

David Griffith, a spokesman for the National Association of State Boards of Education, based in Alexandria, Va., said he was not aware of any other state school board with a similar mandate.

“We would like to see a process by which you get high-quality individuals to serve on the state board,” he said. He added that his organization is seeing increased interest among state boards in student representation and other ways of getting the student perspective on issues.

He pointed out that while parents are already involved in school issues through PTAs and similar organizations, increased parent involvement “can only be to the benefit of schools and school systems.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 09, 2005 edition of Education Week as Maryland Parents Make Case for More Involvement, State Board Seat


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community Opinion A New Group Battling for Freedom of Thought in Education
Rick Hess speaks with the founder of a new network of teachers and parents who support freedom of thought and expression in education.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Families & the Community 'I Need You to Wear a Mask to Protect My Child.' A Mom Fights for Vulnerable Students
Some parents see a tension between their medically vulnerable children's safety and their educational needs during the pandemic.
8 min read
Julia Longoria has joined a federal lawsuit by Disability Rights Texas against Texas Governor Greg Abbott over his ban on mask mandates in public schools. Longoria argues that the executive order prevents her child, Juliana, who is medically at-risk, from being able to attend school safely. Juliana Ramirez, 8, a third grader at James Bonham Academy in San Antonio, Texas, has ADHD and severe asthma which puts her at risk of complications from COVID-19.
Julia Longoria has joined a federal lawsuit by Disability Rights Texas against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his ban on mask mandates in public schools. Longoria argues that the executive order prevents her child, Juliana, 8, who is medically at risk, from being able to attend school safely.
Julia Robinson for Education Week
Families & the Community Reported Essay Pandemic Parents Are More Engaged. How Can Schools Keep It Going?
Families have a better sense of what their child is learning, but schools will have to make some structural shifts to build on what they started.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Families & the Community Opinion How to Preserve the Good Parts of Pandemic Schooling
Yes, there have been a few silver linings for student well-being in the pandemic. Let’s not lose them now, write two researchers.
Laura Clary & Tamar Mendelson
4 min read
A student and teacher communicate through a screen.
iStock/Getty