Family and Community
Family and community involvement in children’s learning and in helping schools achieve their mission is key to successful education systems. NASBE believes that the following actions and concepts will help foster productive relationships among schools, families, and communities:
Family and Community Involvement in Schools
Support for Families
Corporate Involvement in Schools
Contracting for Educational Services
A. Family and Community Involvement in Schools
- State boards of education should support policies and programs to encourage parent involvement in all aspects of their children’s education, including specific learning activities, volunteering in classrooms and school programs, and governance and advocacy in education.
- Activities to promote parent involvement should include training for parents, teachers, and administrators; resources to support, assess and disseminate model local programs and materials; efforts to enhance local leadership and coordination of parent involvement; and outreach programs to educate parents as to their responsibilities regarding the behavior, health, and education of their children.
- Community involvement should be fostered in forms such as school/business partnerships, provision of comprehensive services to children and youth, mentoring programs, and community service activities. State leadership should include training for educators; resources to develop, assess, and disseminate model local projects; and direct state-level efforts to work with the private sector, foundations, and other public agencies.
- State boards should encourage cooperation among local schools and community agencies in establishing a range of field-based educational opportunities for all school age students. These programs should meet state education standards so that academic credit may be awarded.
B. Support for Families
Family members are a child’s first and most influential teachers. Compelling evidence indicates that the sensory and emotional environments of infants and young children affect their development in profound ways. Assisting families to provide a solid foundation for their children’s later education is cost-effective for society and for state government. State boards should lend support to efforts to ensure access to maternal and child health services, nutrition services, quality day care, family literacy programs, parenting education, early childhood education, and early detection and intervention programs that help families overcome impediments to children’s learning. (1997)
Parents have a legitimate concern about books or programs that may shape the morals, prejudices, or behavior of their children. Because of attempts to censor materials being used in public school systems, local school boards should adopt policies and procedures to receive and review requests that challenge public school practices and programs. Community members should be aware of their rights to voice their opinions about school practices and programs and be encouraged to do so within an appropriate administrative forum.
D. Corporate Involvement in Schools
School-business relationships based on sound principles can contribute to high quality education. However, compulsory attendance confers on educators an obligation to protect the welfare of their students and the integrity of the learning environment. Therefore, when working with businesses, schools must ensure that educational values are not distorted in the process. Positive school-business relationships should be ethical and structured in accordance with the following principles:
- Selling or providing access to a captive audience in the classroom for commercial purposes is exploitation and a violation of the public trust.
- Corporate involvement shall not require students to observe, listen to, or read commercial advertising.
- Programs of corporate involvement must be structured to meet an identified education need, not a commercial motive, and must be evaluated for educational effectiveness by the school/district on an ongoing basis. Corporate involvement must support the goals and objectives of the schools.
- Sponsor recognition and corporate logos should be for identification rather than commercial purposes.
- Schools and educators should hold sponsored and donated materials to the same standards used for the selection and purchase of curriculum materials.
- Corporate involvement programs should not limit the discretion of schools and teachers in the use of sponsored materials. (1998)
E. Contracting for Educational Services
In the future, private enterprise, both profit and not-for-profit, may play an important role in public schools. States should take a number of actions to ensure that they are prepared.
- States should develop standards for private concerns doing business with public schools. The standards should require that contracts for such services specify results and include real penalties for failure to achieve them.
- State boards should ensure that privately managed public schools are included in the state’s accountability system and held to the same standards as other schools in the state. Privately managed districts should be subject to the same corrective actions as other districts in the state.
- State boards should review and update, as appropriate, their state’s regulations regarding the authority given to local boards for contracting with private concerns.
- State boards should review their licensing requirements for superintendents and other administrators, both to provide flexibility in hiring and to ensure that administrators have the managerial skills needed for today’s schools and districts. (1998)
F. Community Schools
- Community schools are public education facilities that are open beyond the traditional school day to provide academic, extra-curricular, recreational, health, social services, and work force preparation programs for people of all ages.
- State boards of education can play an active role in fostering community schools by developing and/or supporting school-community programs, advocating the flexible use of state and local funds to allow for pooling of resources from different agencies and sources, and garnering support for community schools by promoting their benefits through policy statements, public dialogue, and testimony. (1998)
G. School-Community Partnerships
State boards of education should leverage their leadership and policymaking roles to promote the importance of school-community partnerships as part of comprehensive education and dropout prevention plans. State boards can do this by:
- Creating a communication plan to inform students, parents, other stakeholders, department of education staff, districts, and schools on community and education issues and how each of these individuals and entities can be involved.
- Leading by example as they develop and facilitate partnerships, as well as support local collaborations that connect state-level policymakers to workforce development, higher education, families, and the community at-large.
- Promoting partnerships and dropout prevention initiatives by providing small grants to schools and districts or making sure currently available resources are allocated appropriately.
- Using their role as policymakers to examine current policies and ensuring they encourage, support, and sustain best practice models of school-community partnerships and dropout prevention
- Creating a systemic, comprehensive education framework around an inclusive vision for student success that defines and includes the specific roles of parents, businesses, the faith community, and other community, mental, and physical health organizations.
- Developing a longitudinal, comprehensive data system that includes students’ academic, behavioral, and health data, is able to provide real-time information, and can flag students who may need early intervention programs and services.
- Creating multiple pathways to graduation and opportunities to gain and apply knowledge and skills (e.g., through service learning or career technical courses) that will require strategic school-community partnerships. (2010)