As the Boston Public School Assistant Superintendent for Family and Community Engagement, Brooks talks about the role of parents in educating their children.
Q. What is the parent university?
A. Parent University is an exciting concept. It brings parents together to expand their understanding of how to help their children succeed in school and have access to educational opportunities. Parents also learn how to become a partner in the decision-making process at their children’s school. Parent University full day sessions are held three time a year. The next one is May 1st. In between the full day Saturday sessions, classes are held at schools. Parent University is about celebrating parents as teachers, advocates, leaders and learners. Our motto is: Parents are Powerful!
Q. Why do you think it is necessary?
A. Parents are a child’s first teacher. Over the past two decades research has demonstrated that there is a correlation between how engaged parents are in a child’s education and the student’s success in school. The research further reveals that regardless of the socioeconomic status or level of education of parents, if they are engaged, their children do better in school. This makes a very strong case for Parent University – it is a place designed specifically to support the engagement of parents.
Q. What is the curriculum?
A. Some of the classes offered are focused on what students are learning, such as Feeling at Home with Fractions. Others deal with parenting issues, such as “The Things Kids Do That Drive Us Nuts.” There are also classes that help parents with financial management, such as “Money Talks” and “Where Do We Go from Here?” Other classes encourage the leader within, such as “Seeing Ourselves as Leaders.”
Q. How can parents enroll?
A. Enrollment for the May 1st session begins on March 5th. We encourage parents to register early as classes fill up quickly. The deadline for registration is April 15th.
Q. How important is the involvement of parents in the education of their children?
A. Parents are important partners in the education of their children. Parents are their child’s first teacher. The messages that parents send to their children through their words and actions impact how children view themselves and their education. Their involvement makes a world of difference. A simple conversation about what their child learned in school or sharing thoughts about a book will make a powerful impact.
Q. What can be done to motivate students even if their parents are unable to participate?
A. It has been my experience that when the adults responsible for educating children, both teachers and parents, have high expectations, affirm the child’s ability to succeed and provide the emotional and academic supports necessary, students are motivated and engaged in their learning. Even when parents are unable to participate in school activities, they can send the message that they believe their child can succeed and that will go a long way.
Q. How can we mobilize the total community to re-establish academic success as a generally held value?
A. Educating the children of Boston is everybody’s business! There is a direct correlation between education levels of citizens and the quality of life in a city. If every adult in this city would ask every child or youth they encountered, “How is school?” it would send a message that education is important. We need to celebrate the academic success of our students as a community. Not just the academic stars, but those students who have made a conscious decision to change for the better. They are all our shining stars!
Q. What can be done to induce students to accept personal responsibility for their own education?
A. There are more students who everyday accept personal responsibility for their learning. They make a conscious choice everyday to come to school and do their best. It is important that when they become discouraged and disengaged that the adults in their families and in their schools come together to identify the reasons and work together to rectify the situation