Our country is experiencing something new: we have a shared sense that everyone can achieve to a high level. This is such a critical step that we have taken as a country to know this and to work toward assuring that all children learn to a high level. This is breakthrough thinking in the United States. Now we need to support our thinking with action so that we educate all children in a way that prepares them to thrive and compete in a global economy. I believe this can only be done when schools and parents and communities work together. In fact, schools belong to parents and their community.
Often, the voices of community members and parents are not heard when important educational decisions are being made. Parents are made to feel inadequate and unwelcome in many school settings, especially those parents whose culture, home language or economic status is not mainstream. But effective community engagement builds partnerships based on respect and a shared goal of academic success for every child. Effective engagement depends on the meaningful integration of community members and parents into the decision-making processes of schools.
In his article, "The Lens for Viewing the Full Dimensions of Families," Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., describes IDRA’s principles for family leadership in education, which are based on the understanding that parents and members of the community are assets to the school and that they bring a strength that can transform the neighborhood school. Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., presents a research base for critical components of effective engagement in "What Parent and Community Engagement Means for Quality Schools." And in "Technology Community Centers for Minority College-Bound Students," Leticia Rodríguez, Ed.M., tells the story of IDRA’s TECNO project in the Edgewood community of San Antonio. This is an exciting effort that links schools and communities in providing high-tech and high-touch information and assistance to high school students who once thought college wasn’t possible. Now it is.
This is a new day in our nation. And while the challenges we face in education can seem overwhelming, there is an amazing power in our communities to do the hard work that needs to be done hand-in-hand with school leaders to make sure all of our students graduate prepared for college and life. Investment in the future of our young people will have a lasting positive impact on our families, our communities and our country.
María Robledo Montecel
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[©2009, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Every effort has been made to maintain the content in its original form. However, accompanying charts and graphs may not be provided here. To receive a copy of the original article by mail or fax, please fill out our information request and feedback form. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]