Millions of dollars have been invested in initiatives that urge families to care more about education. The problem is that a lack of caring is not the problem. Across decades of experience and work with thousands of families whose children attend high poverty schools, we have found that families care deeply about their children and their children’s future. What is often missing is a better way for schools and families to partner so that everyone has a seat at the table. IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education Model aims to captures this approach.
Few people question the value of parents being involved in schools. But many school leaders labor with traditional strategies that have little meaning or success. The underlying assumptions we have about our students have a dramatic effect on our ability to teach. The same holds true among adults. Even with the best of intentions, educators struggle to work with families without realizing that their own deficit assumptions are creating the barriers.
We chose to champion and speak for the inclusive, nondiscriminatory idea that all families are inherently good and worthy of being treated with respect, dignity and value (including those who are economically disadvantaged, minority or speak a language other than English).
IDRA’s goal is bigger than parent involvement in education, rather it is family leadership. This model is a vision of all families as advocates of excellent neighborhood public schools. In this context, leadership is:
- based on peer support and rotating responsibilities,
- ongoing invitation and support of new leadership,
- connecting parents and communities across race, ethnic and class divisions,
- focusing on collective action for the good of all children, and
- building relationships and trust that are essential to the process.
The characteristics we support in the development of leadership are in contrast to some traditional parent leadership models that emphasize individual assertiveness and charismatic advocacy. Our process supports parents in learning to work in groups, planning and carrying out activities, speaking in front of groups, and developing other personal skills and traits that develop the individual. But, our emphasis is on collective action, listening to peers, and revolving tasks and leadership roles.
See the model IDRA Parent Leadership in Education Model in English and Spanish (pdf)
IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education Principles in English and Spanish (pdf)
Authentic Family Engagement through Education CAFEs – Podcast Episode 174, September 08, 2017
Liderazgo Familiar Intergeneracional: Intergenerational Family Leadership as a New Paradigm of Family Engagement, by Aurelio Montemayor and Nancy Chavkin, for VUE Voices in Urban Education, September 2016
Co-Leading and Co-Transforming Schools – School Administrators and Family Leaders in Education, IDRA Newsletter, September 25, 2016
Building Parent Voice for Action – Podcast Episode 146, October 14, 2014
Mesa Comunitaria Educativa – Community Collaboration for Education Advocacy, IDRA Newsletter, March 19, 2014
Family Leadership in the Field- Lasting Community Leadership in Education, IDRA Newsletter, July 07, 2011
IDRAs Family Leadership Principles, IDRA Newsletter, September 4, 2007
The Power of IDRA’s Parent Leadership Model – Podcast Episode 3, November 10, 2006
Valued Parent Leadership, IDRA Newsletter, June 30, 2000
The Nurturing of Parent Leadership, IDRA Newsletter, September 6, 1997