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By Lisa Clancy, Program Manager
In “Public Engagement and Education Reform,” Stu Silberman reminds readers of a need that far too often falls through the cracks: that the public must be engaged in and connected to changes in public education. In fact, public engagement is key to the success of implementing and sustaining large-scale reforms.
Based on his own experience with the passage and implementation of the Kentucky Education Reform Act back in 1990, Silberman writes that teachers and administrators fought the changes because they felt that they were not involved in the development and process. Fast-forward over twenty years later and I know that we have a system that heavily engages teachers and administrators but not so much parents and students. Here at CEAM and out in the community, we are in regular contact with parents who feel shutout and frustrated. Parents must feel included in the discussions and decision-making that impacts their children in the classroom. And parent voices must be heard and valued by teachers, administrators, and policymakers as part of the process, not just when decisions are already made. The Missouri Parent Academy is one way to ensure parents have a place at the table and will be one of the first of it’s kind programs in the whole country. This program was created based on feedback from parents and families who expressed a frustration with the lack of partnership they felt with their child’s school, and a need to be heard.
I appreciate Silberman’s reminder that with pending education policy changes, now is the time for public engagement. I would emphasize the notion that parents must be better connected than they have in the past, and that we have a responsibility to create systems to ensure that this happens. I will certainly stay tuned to his new blog.
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