What better time than the beginning of a new school year to launch a new blog about parent involvement and public engagement with elementary and secondary education. Given the breadth of the concepts being linked here, there are many aspects of how parents and the public interact with K-12 education. Since the community includes parents and nonparents, businesses and nonprofits, organized and informal groups, and arguably almost anything and anyone other than educators, government, and education researchers, there’s a lot to cover.
Implicitly, this is a discussion about parental and other community involvement in education, but involvement comes in many forms—from parents reading to their kids and civic groups partnering on projects to companies or foundations providing financial or human resources for schools and even community members adamantly disengaging from education.
It’s a rich subject and a great time to be taking on these myriad topics. Parent involvement is all the rage among educators and researchers (and, I might add, many parents), and rightly so. While the data on effects are conflicting and nuanced, few would say that parents should not be a part of their children’s education. But how, and how much? Likewise, at a time when a larger proportion of adult Americans than ever are not parents of K-12 students, what should their role be vis a vis education and children? With state and federal budget deficits putting intense pressure on education funding, should businesses, foundations, other nonprofits, and community groups play a larger role in financing or providing in-kind services for schools? And, at a time when “public engagement” and volunteerism are hot, what do these mean for community involvement in K-12 education?
This is a lot to cover—the news, the research, the questions, the broader issues—but these topics hardly cover the waterfront. A blog is about interactively exploring ideas, so I’m more than open to going in directions that you may suggest. I want to know what interests and concerns you about “K-12, Parents & the Public.”
So, who am I? I am, or have been, a journalist, a public policy professional, a historian, an educator, and a parent. I’ve covered education for national news media, worked in the U.S. Department of Education, been involved in education research projects for a nonprofit organization, taught (albeit at the college level), and have an 8th-grade son who, incidentally, is active in student government and, thus, also thinks about school-community relations. (Thus, this blog reinforces my own parental involvement.)
Schools, communities, and the nation have dramatically changed since I was a child and even since I first started covering education in the 1980s. But tracking and speculating about changes—both short- and longer-term—fascinate me as a journalist and historian. I see this blog as a way for me, and for us, to learn and try to better understand education in 2010s America. As much as the blogosphere permits, I look forward to hearing from you and batting about ideas together.
A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12, Parents & the Public blog.