Parent Involvement Matters
~ By Yulanda Florence
When one hears the recent numbers given by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) on the graduation rate in Rochester and our neighboring cities of Syracuse and Buffalo, there is reason to be alarmed. According to NYSED.gov, although
statewide graduation rates remained stable at 74 percent, Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo were all below 50 percent. There may be a number of contributing factors for these low numbers such as low student turnout; lack of resources; student to teacher ratios; and/or poverty. However, we can all agree that parent involvement is another key reason our children may fail or succeed in school and in life for that matter. Most schools have Parent Teacher Associations/Organizations (PTA/PTO)
and School Based Planning Teams (SBPT) which are designed to advocate and give our children the extra tools they need to succeed in school. They also allow parents to stay involved and keep up with the current trends in education. Common held beliefs suggest that there is not enough parent involvement in the aforementioned organizations, but more involvement
is also needed for parent/teacher conferences and in supporting after school activities. The real question is how do we increase these numbers so that our children can start being the real winners here? Nakia Cleveland, an involved parent with children in the Rochester City School District (RCSD), says one way to increase parent involvement would be to hold online sessions for parents who go to work or go to school at night: “I always miss out because I’m in class on the night they have PTO,” says Cleveland. She also suggests that some meetings may be held on weekends. China Miller, another city resident who has had two children graduate from RCSD, says because poverty is such a big issue, many schools may have to offer incentives to increase parent involvement. Miller says incentives such as food pantry coupons or classes for parents may help. Miller also said, “I believe if we are able to teach people how to live comfortably to help themselves it will make them become more involved.”
The state of education is in crisis. You have teachers blaming the administrators; the administrators blaming the teachers’ unions; and the teachers’ unions blaming government or school boards. When you have enough blame to go around and throw
in the lack of parent involvement, you have a recipe for disaster. There are many different opinions, but we can agree that we should all have the same goal of educating our children to become productive, successful citizens in life. The way to execute this won’t be answered tomorrow, but more parent involvement is a great starting point for great changes to come.
Yulanda Florence is a Freelance News Reporter/Writer with articles frequently published in Greece Messenger Post and the Gates-Chili Messenger Post. Before returning back to school and receiving her degree in Communications/Journalism. Yulanda spent almost 10 years in the leasing Real estate profession.