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13 May 2010 - 07 May 2021
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Duncan: Double Funds for Parent Involvement
A partnership among parents and teachers is missing in many of the nation’s schools, said Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who announced at Georgetown a proposed doubling of funds to promote parental involvement in elementary and secondary education.

Duncan spoke May 3 in Gaston Hall on “The Role of Family Engagement in Education Reform” to Georgetown community members and delegates from this year’s “Mom Congress,” hosted by the university’s School of Continuing Studies and Parenting magazine.

Under proposed revisions to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, states would receive 2 percent of Title I funds -- $270 million -- for school districts to engage parents. The original proposal called for 1 percent of the funds.

“Students and parents should feel connected, and teachers should feel supported. When parents demand change and better options for their children, they become the real accountability backstop for our educational system,” Duncan said.

A Complacent Culture
Americans believe good parenting is essential, but Duncan said the nation’s culture fosters complacency. He said there are many instances in which parents say, “Sorry to hear about the low math scores, but my Johnny is doing just fine.”

Whether it’s shutting off the television or video games for moments of reading, playing outdoors or more-controlled access to electronic media, parents have to make that difference, Duncan said.

Low income and limited access to resources may play a key role in escalating dropout rates, but “poverty is never destiny,” he said.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia agreed that both parents and teachers have a responsibility to ensure that students reach their fullest potential.

“Through quality education, we enable our students to achieve better lives to overcome hurdles and most importantly to be thoughtful and compassionate, creative, confident leaders of tomorrow,” DeGioia said. 
Parent-Teacher Collaboration
Duncan said that educators must step up their efforts to engage parents.

“Schools should be places that honor and respect families, that meet parents on their own terms,” he said, “even if it means teachers giving out their cell phone numbers to field questions at night and calling back the single mom who missed her parent-teacher conference because she was at work.”

Mothers who have created textbooks for kindergartners, detailed curricula for community service and worked to get junk food out of schools were among the few dozen parents sitting on the stage with Duncan as he championed the need for family engagement at school.

“That’s the power we need to harness if we’re going to transform public education in our country,” he said.

-- Nia Hightower

(May 4, 2010)

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