Cooperation and Parent Engagement
There are a lot of parties in K12 education, and it’s no secret that they don’t always get along. That’s why it is so refreshing when so many of the leaders who affect local education – the PTA, the school district, and major providers – come together to offer a common-sense service that will genuinely engage parents, including those parents who are the hardest to reach.
The good news comes from San Diego. The PTA, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), and Promethean have teamed up to create The Parent Connection. The Parent Connection is a broadcast of classroom lessons beamed directly to parents’ cell phones. (More information on the project is available here). The program will run on Channel One News InterActiv, which is itself a partnership between Promethean and CBS News providing current events programming. Parents can sign up for The Parent Connection and have a daily broadcast of selected progress data from their child’s school day texted to their cell phones via an embedded URL. Since 91% of Americans now use cell phones, it’s easy to picture almost every parent in San Diego benefiting from this service.
There are big potential implications here. While people debate the factors that improve student achievement, no one disputes the tremendous impact of parental involvement. The big question was always how to get parents involved. The PTA, of course, has being getting parents involved since the 19th century. The tougher question was always how can we engage a parent who works 16 hours a day at two jobs to make ends meet? How can we engage those parents who are simply stretched too thin to come meet with a teacher every time their child struggles?
Yet almost all of these parents have cell phones. They can watch their child’s performance on the go, and see exactly how their child is doing. They can be engaged with their children’s education, just like parents who don’t have the same constraints.
San Diego is the first school district in the country to take part in a program like The Parent Connection, and we are eager to see the results. We anticipate that SDUSD will see a marked upswing in parental participation. We hope that other school districts will follow suit.
Just as importantly, The Parent Connection shows that cooperation is possible in K12 education. The PTA, SDUSD, and Promethean are very important leaders in the K12 space, and The Parent Connection is proof they can produce powerful tools to improve education when they work together. Here’s to hoping the lesson isn’t lost on the other players responsible for America’s education system.