Parent Engagement in Schools

Parental Engagement in School

The most accurate predictor of a student's achievement in school is not income or social status, but the extent to which that student's family is able to create a home environment that encourages learning; express high and realistic expectations for their children's achievement and future careers; and become involved in their children's education at school and in the community. Henderson and Berla (1994). P. 160

In City Schools there is a Family and Community Engagement policy set up to ensure parent involvement in schools.  The policy deals with School Family Councils, Parent Teacher Organizations and other school based meetings. There is a statewide policy governing the citywide Parent Community Advisory Board, and separate set of City Schools board policies outlining the opportunities for public input at board meetings and public forums.

School Family Councils

A SFC is the structure by which community members, parents and teachers have a say in major decisions about their school: the budget, hiring the principal, and the school improvement plan.  The council is supposed to have at least 3 elected parents (one of whom should be a PTA or PTO member) and 2 community members selected by the council. It is still unclear what “an advisory role” really can and should mean. As part of this policy the CEO of City Schools is supposed to assess the implementation of the policy every year, and provide training and materials to help implementation.  A few years ago, there was an push for all schools to create an SFC.  However, since the federal funding ran out, training and enforcement of this policy has lapsed.

Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) or Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

Every school is required by the district to “...establish a recognized, organized parent group if one does not currently exist.”  With all the demands on parent, teacher and administrator time, it takes some determination to sustain an effective body that has some influence.  Many schools have either no group or one that meets irregularly.

Parent Community Advisory Board (PCAB)

In 1997, Senate Bill 795 required the creation of a new board of school commissioners in Baltimore City. One element of this complicated bill was the mandate to create a new parent/community advisory board.  This board must consist of 14 members, the majority of whom must be parents of a current student. It meets monthly, and the CEO is required to attend on a quarterly basis. PCAB’s role is to “consult with” the board of school commissioners and the CEO.

Input at Board Meetings and Forums

The rules for how the public can have input to the school board are mostly contained in one set of policies called: School Board Governance and Operations.  These policies can be found at the online portal for all school board policies.