Parents and schools locked in pitched conflicts—over curriculum, book bans, policies that support LGBTQ students and staff—has been a dominant storyline for two years.
But the reality of school-family dynamics in many districts is not one of constant combat over highly politicized issues. That said, districts and schools often really struggle with fostering meaningful engagment with the families of the students they serve.
There are several ways that school districts can build effective relationships with parents and families. Inviting families to participate in the creation of district policies before a decision is made or providing spaces for parents to build community with each other are a few of the more intensive strategies that districts can implement. Joanna Geller, director of policy, research and evaluation at NYU’s Metropolitan Center, explains that there are also lighter touch techniques that districts can employ, such as providing translation services or simply inviting parents to board meetings can go a long way towards building positive family engagement. Here, she talks about what motivates parents to engage with their districts, and how districts can best support that work.
Coverage of strategies for advancing the opportunities for students most in need, including those from low-income families and communities, is supported by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, at www.waltonk12.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.