(July 16, 2012) There is a difference between “parent involvement” and “parent engagement.” Involvement tends to imply participation in school activities and helping to fundraise. But engagement has more to do with the school’s partnership with parents to strengthen the school academically for the success of all students. Dr. Rogelio López recently worked with a high school in Houston to transform how it engages with parents starting with the understanding that the responsibility lies with everyone in the school, not a single staff member. He describes how the school led in-depth discussions with parents about the new graduation requirements and worked together to prepare students for college and seek scholarships. They also focused on how to create a safe school environment by addressing bullying. Rogelio is interviewed by Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity. Send comments to
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* Rogelio talks about the initial lack of parent engagement at the Houston high school, and how all teachers and staff members owned the collective responsibility to improve it.
* Rogelio discusses the key issues that the school and parents focused on: new graduation requirements, college readiness, bullying, and civil rights.
* Rogelio talks about the parents’ response to a documentary that students in a film class had produced about the surrounding neighborhoods. With direction from the film instructor, the parents banded together to create their own video that showcased the strong points and highlights of the community and its families.
* Rogelio shares his three key takeaways from his work with the school:
1) The parents wanted to support their children in their academic achievement.
2) The parents came to understand the importance of engaging with school staff and teachers.
3) Armed with more information, parents feel better equipped to lead and encourage their children, and to help them prepare for college.
* Rogelio reinforces how the school administration created a welcoming environment for parents, encouraging them to be true partners in the education process. Ultimately, both sides want the same thing: success for the students.
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