LEXINGTON, April 28, 2018 — A group of 33 parents spent a day discussing and learning ways to support improved results from local schools. The Prichard Committee’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership organized the Kentucky Parent Leadership Summit to keep building grassroots support for focusing on greater achievement.
The summit was designed to better equip active parents and prepare them to work through a series of materials at their own pace to ultimately attain status as a Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership Fellow. While the institute previously held a series of weekend sessions to familiarize parents with Kentucky’s standards, accountability system, and a range of education and empowerment topics, the new direction will allow parents more freedom to work as their time permits.
In the end, the goal remains to build the ranks of informed and effective parents who can work within their own communities to build up other parents, play a meaningful role in school improvement efforts and advocate for education issues with community and state leaders.
At the Lexington summit, parents heard from a panel of elected school council and school board members about the role they play in addressing achievement issues. Three teachers discussed how they are addressing standards and new accountability measures. A panel of longtime parent organizers shared insights on teaming with schools and building the ranks of informed, active family members. In addition, shorter sessions provided information on school safety issues, new directions in health and physical education, expanded student voice and more.
Parents experienced a “data walk,” examining more than a dozen enlarged charts and graphs illustrating education attainment and conditions in the state, carrying note paper to leave questions or comments on each chart. After the data session, the group heard a presentation and asked questions of Wayne Lewis, the new interim state education commissioner.
Participants discussed the need for resources and support to become advocates and leaders in schools. “Parents want to be involved, they often just don’t know how to connect the dots,” said Julie Pile, a parent leader from Boone County.
Striking the right balance in supporting schools can be difficult, added Brenda Martin, a parent in Russell in Greenup County. “It’s hard to feel like you’ve got it all together,” she said. “Sometimes you feel alone, but you are going to keep going because this is important work.” Bringing parents together to learn and network can be an important step in improving student achievement, speakers said.
The summit was sponsored by State Farm; Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.; Raymond B. Preston Family Foundation; Public Life Foundation; St. Elizabeth Healthcare; Bluegrass Community and Technical College; Courier Journal; Gannett Foundation; Educators for High Standards; Elsa Heisel Sule Foundation; Kentucky Families for ESSA, and LGE/KU, PPL Companies.
More information on the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, a program the Prichard Committee started in 1997, is available at prichardcommittee.org/family_engagement/
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