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Letters to Congress about new report, Family-School-Community Partnerships 2.0 - Parent and Community Outreach Initiative

January 17, 2012

Dear Senator/Representative:


The parent and community outreach initiative in Reading, Pennsylvania, is one of 16 exemplary efforts profiled in Family-School-Community Partnerships 2.0, a new research-based report on the role of families and communities in raising student achievement from the National Education Association, which represents 3.2 million educators nationwide.

Family School Partnerships 2.0 is part of NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign, which aims to transform struggling schools — especially the bottom five percent eligible for U.S. Department of Education School Improvement Grants — in collaboration with parents, students, and community groups. Such efforts are most effective “when schools link activities for families to what students are learning and doing in class,” according to the report.

Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) are a time-tested way to get families involved. Once common in Reading, they vanished when affluent families moved to the suburbs. Now the poorest school district in the state, Reading’s growing Hispanic population is largely uninvolved — parents often feel uninvited, cut off from the schools by language and culture. To break down those barriers, a coalition led by the Reading Education Association has re-established PTAs in two elementary schools and is working to bring one to every school by 2013.

NEA members play an active role in all of the initiatives profiled in Family School Partnerships 2.0. Other common elements include mechanisms to evaluate student outcomes, reasonable cost, and potential for replication. Successful strategies identified by the researchers include:

  • Setting high expectations for students
  • Using data to determine priorities and strategies
  • Tailoring programs to local needs
The full profile of Reading’s parent and community outreach initiative is attached and available online at http://bit.ly/s4EZ5f, along with the rest of the report. We urge you to check it out!

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson
Director, Center for Advocacy

Mary Kusler
Director, Government Relations