Helping Parents Ensure Excellence and Opportunity for Their Children

Author: John Fisher, Executive Director, Stand for Children Arizona

January 27, 2014

From my experience in the private sector, as an educator, and now in the non-profit sector, I have the privilege of seeing from a variety of perspectives how education impacts nearly every sector of society.  The link to the economy is regularly discussed as are – occasionally - the connection to healthcare and social welfare programs.  I often wonder, though, if these conversations ever include, or even reach, the individuals and the communities most significantly affected by our education system.  Are we, as a community, working truly with everyone or are we “leaders” working in a silo, unconnected and unknown to those whom we aim to serve?

In my experience, I have found that in every case where a child “beats the odds” or otherwise finds success where it is not expected of him or her, that student has had some strong, relationship-based guidance.  These relationships can be with a teacher, a counselor, or even a community mentor.  But for the most part, the vast majority of the instances I have seen students “beat the odds” is when the child’s parent is truly engaged: following up on their child’s progress in school, guiding him or her to make the right choices, and helping him or her recover from the wrong ones.  Many parents are well-equipped for this challenge.  They have either experienced success themselves or they have recognized the power of education and committed to ensure they overcome any obstacles that get in their way to supporting their child.

So how do we help this kind of support happen more often?  How do we engage parents in meaningful ways that build a commitment to success and drive actions that foster student success?  We know parents innately want what is best for their children.  We know there are economic realities that can make the path more difficult for some than others.  But we also have seen success – we know it is possible.  The only question is how to provide this support to every parent who needs it.

At Stand for Children, we have found success in working with parents to recognize their role not only as drivers of their children’s education, but also as community leaders.  We regularly witness a parent taking on the responsibility for demanding excellence from their child and for their child.  These moments are powerful experiences that truly transform families and create energy and momentum behind change.  Building on these moments, these parents share their experience with their peers, and the impact starts to go beyond one home and change communities.  These engaged parents begin to partner in meaningful ways with their schools and district to ensure the education their children are receiving and the outcomes they are attaining are of the highest caliber.

We know every child can be successful because we have witnessed it happen in local settings.  We know we aren’t delivering on that promise to every child.  Let’s make sure we are working with all stakeholders in the system, especially parents, to ensure excellence and opportunity for all children.

Category: Education Excellence

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