Most everyone seems to agree that parent involvement and community engagement are among the key factors for school success (though there is conflicting research out there, too, that says having involved parents offers a child no guarantee of success and can even inhibit student success as parents are distracted by bake sales and politics).
If MPS schools have been charged in the past with failing to properly engage parents, families and communities, that ought to change with the hiring at every school of a 30-hour para-professional whose job is to reach out to and collaborate with parents and the community.
The key word is "ought," because, of course, the success will depend not only on the skills of the folks hired for the positions â€“ which pay $15.88-$17.60 an hour and include benefits â€“ but also on the support they receive from staff and administration in their respective buildings and central office.
And parents and communities have to want to be engaged. It is not enough to say, "engage me." Meaningful engagement is a two-way street that will almost surely be lined with some potholes and road blocks that will require determination and cooperation to overcome.
This work will have to be more active, more interactive, more relationship-based, more inclusive, than things like MPSâ€™ District Advisory Council, at which school representatives show up to a monthly meeting to hear announcements and then eat. (Frankly, parents attending those meetings would often be better served by going upstairs to watch and participate in the school board meeting, which is typically scheduled concurrently.)
According to the districtâ€™s position description for the post, the duties of the school-based Parent Engagement Para-professionals position are:
- Meets with principals, teachers and other school personnel to discuss strategies for improving parental engagement and school-community partnership.
- Greets parents and community members who enter the building and assists them in reaching their destination.
- Works closely with other members of the parent component in carrying out the development, implementation and assessment of the Title I Educational Plan.
- Engages in activities which promote communication and understanding between the parent, school and the community.
- At the request of the principal or the designees, plane and holds ongoing activities that attract and retain parents-families to the school.
- Develops and conducts training for parents/families and volunteers that will enable them to work more effectively with their children in order to raise achievement and close the achievement gap.
- Assists in developing and maintaining parent centers at the school for the dissemination of information, resources and training.
- Engages in activities designed to broaden self-awareness of effective strategies for working with parents such at reading literature, attending in-services and/or classes/seminars. Uses strategies in training and dissemination of information to parents/families.
- Attends meetings as required.
- Actively supports the MPS Strategic Plan.
- Performs other duties as assigned.
This week, school interview teams are interviewing candidates for the positions, which presumably go into effect for the new academic year.
It remains to be seen how well this new position will work to spark closer ties and more developed, useful relationships between schools and the parents, families and communities of the children they serve, but itâ€™s encouraging to see MPS make the commitment to giving it a try.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published June 23, 2016
Today, I spent a little time with architect Craig Eide and Fernwood Montessori School principal John Sanchez touring the Bay View public school's new addition, which is expected to be complete by mid-July, for a Sept. 1 first day of school.
Published June 21, 2016
Recently, we visited Engine Co. 6 on Brady Street, a firehouse that, in addition to being well-known in the neighborhood, has a long history on the East Side. The first station was built here in 1875 and was replaced with the current building in 1946.
Published June 15, 2016
On Tuesday, Milwaukee Christian Center's Neighborhood Improvement Project "dropped" another modular home for low-to-moderate-income families into place on Milwaukee's South Side, in the shadow of the St. Josaphat dome near Lincoln Avenue.
Published June 14, 2016
More than a century and a half after the opening of the first brewery in Milwaukee, the city's identity is still drenched in beer. At Forest Home Cemetery, many of the men who made the beer that made Milwaukee famous lie in repose. You can "meet" them at Brunch with the Barons.
Published June 13, 2016
Last October, Marquette University opened a new Jesuit Residence. But one reader knew I'd be more interested in the building the priests formerly called home. So join me as we take a last look at the old Stratford Arms Hotel before it is razed in July.
Published June 9, 2016
"American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood" is at Milwaukee Art Museum from June 10 through Sept. 5. Here are seven works that especially caught the eye. But, rest assured, in a show with about 100 Benton works, there's plenty more.
Published June 7, 2016
Milwaukee as it could be. That's how artist John O'Neill approaches his unique, colorful, engaging and action-packed Milwaukee Envisioned series of drawings of the city, which mash up the past, present and potential future of the Brew City.
Published June 3, 2016
The Maryland Avenue Montessori School building has been growing periodically ever since the first school was opened on the site in the mid-1860s. With one of MPS' most successful and popular programs bursting at the seams of the building, a new addition is coming.
Published June 1, 2016
Lincoln Warehouse is home to brewers, distillers, hair salons, recording studios, online retailers, artists of all stripes and warehouse space. Get a peek at the creative energy at an open house on Thursday, June 2.
Published May 31, 2016
Any day now, the single-story brick building on the corner of 5th and Juneau will disappear from the landscape, removed to make room for the new Bucks arena and related development.