Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Parent Empowerment Already Exists

Florida is in the process of possibly passing a so-called Parent Trigger or Parent Empowerment law, which will allow parents from a "failing" school to vote to turn the school over to private management, which could include for-profit charter school operators. Proponents of the legislation mislead the public stating that parents currently do not have a seat at the table when it comes to improving conditions at their children's schools. They claim that this law will give the parents the tools they need to take charge of their child's education and to hold schools accountable for results. 

Well, in addition always having the ability to share concerns with school principals, district administrators and elected school board members, there has been a system in place in Florida since 1991 that gives parents the opportunity to influence school decisions. It is called the School Advisory Council. This committee consists of administrators, teachers, parents, students, and at-large members of the business and residential community. According to the Florida Department of Education, every school has a SAC to "act as the driving force behind the school improvement process and increase student achievement." 

The main duty of this group is to create the School Improvement Plan, which addresses state and district proficiency goals and how the school will work on increasing student achievement. The document can also address things such as discipline and parental involvement, which in my opinion is one of the leading factors in increasing student achievement. 

All schools are required to have a School Advisory Council. Unfortunately, getting non-school staff involved is a chore and some schools often have to beg people to get involved in the committee. I wonder if there is a correlation between the level of non-school staff involvement on this committee along with participation in the school in general and student achievement? I don't think we need a scientific study to reach a conclusion on that one. 

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