Opinion

Why Parents Must Be Partners in Public Schools

Why Parents Must Be Partners in Public Schools

File photo by Sam Hodgson

Parents and teachers gather inside the San Diego Unified boardroom to protest proposed school closures.

The opening statement in Christie Ritter’s Nov. 20 story (“Why the Teachers Union Beef with UPforEd”) rings true: “Students whose parents are involved in their children’s education do better in school. There’s no dispute about that.”

Letters logoBut some of the people quoted in her article seemed to define “involved” differently.

For parents, “involved” means the same sort of oversight any government entity receives from the public, and then some. After all, children’s futures and the community they will live in are wrapped up in those young minds.

In order to become more involved, as is often a common request by educators, Executive Director Lisa Berlanga proactively reached out to the teacher’s union representative, Bill Freeman. So far, Freeman has not responded to more than eight separate meeting requests.

But Freeman will likely respond to these requests eventually. Both the superintendent and board of trustees have said parents are a necessary partner in public education, and a district priority.

Forging a productive parent-teacher relationship benefits students. This is why parents wanted to recognize teachers’ classroom achievements.

Soliciting teacher nominations positively engages parents in local education and recognizes excellent teachers. Communication and parent involvement are critical to the success of our Parent Choice Awards.

With or without UPforEd’s work, San Diego parents may choose to relocate their students away from under-performing neighborhood schools, and many do.

That’s unfortunate — for parents, teachers and the community at large. But so many families don’t have that option. It’s up to the community to foster those struggling schools.

That said, a big part of UPforEd’s mission is to work hard to help create a quality school in every neighborhood with excellent teachers.

Despite some steep odds, notable progress has been made in getting parents involved and shining a light on areas needing improvement. Thousands of parents and taxpayers district-wide expect UPforEd to invest parents’ time and energy into neighborhood schools for the betterment of all.

The San Diego Unified School District Board’s decision to recognize parents’ efforts helps forge stronger relations with the district, community and hopefully, with the teacher’s union. From here, we can better engage, educate and provide resources to parents throughout the district.

Stephen D. Rosen is chairman of UPforEd. Rosen’s note has been edited for clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here. Want to respond? Submit a commentary.

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4 comments
Derby Pattengill
Derby Pattengill

Yes, parents absolutely must be partners in public schools. Mr. Rosen is dead-on in his comment; "Forging a productive parent-teacher relationship benefits students." Taking it a step further, this relationship obviously in turn benefits the community as a whole as these students enter the workforce and as they become good citizens and neighbors.

The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has been forging productive parent-teacher relationships for more than 100 years, all while advocating for the development of essential programs we take for granted today. These programs include kindergarten, child labor laws, public health services, hot lunches at school, a juvenile justice system and immunizations to name a few.

The mission of the PTA is to make every child's potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. Rather than sit on the sidelines and gripe about what is wrong with our schools, PTA volunteers are engaged every day at almost 80 school sites in San Diego Unified. PTA programs including reading and math tutoring, arts classes, health fairs, back-to-school nights, legislative advocacy locally and in Sacramento, and more comprised over $4.3 million in donated tome to the San Diego Unified School District last year alone.

Positive and meaningful engagement between parents and teachers and the district is the only way to return our public schools to an effective system that only a few years ago was modeled worldwide. Parents, teachers and administrators must come together for the good of our children, our future.

Derby Pattengill
President San Diego Unified Council of PTAs
president@sdcouncilpta.org

VeronicaCorningstone
VeronicaCorningstone

I'm confused by the relationship between UpforEd and VoSD. I'm seeing ads for UpforEd and for their teacher awards all over the website. Is this an opinion piece by someone also buying advertising? Was Christie Ritter's previous "article" also advertising? I remember there being an UpforEd kidzone at a VoSD event previously. This opinion piece frequently uses the word "parents" when it should read "our organization". It's either sloppy or misleading. Also, this piece does not address the question of why UpforEd needed the contact info of parents who were nominating teachers. What's up with that?

VeronicaCorningstone
VeronicaCorningstone subscriber

I'm confused by the relationship between UpforEd and VoSD. I'm seeing ads for UpforEd and for their teacher awards all over the website. Is this an opinion piece by someone also buying advertising? Was Christie Ritter's previous "article" also advertising? I remember there being an UpforEd kidzone at a VoSD event previously. This opinion piece frequently uses the word "parents" when it should read "our organization". It's either sloppy or misleading. Also, this piece does not address the question of why UpforEd needed the contact info of parents who were nominating teachers. What's up with that?

Catherine Green
Catherine Green

Hi, Veronica Corningstone................... Moving on. UPforEd sponsored the kid zone at our event Politifest, and thus was given a month of advertising on our site. The organization does not influence our editorial decisions. They reached out with a response to Christie's story, and we ran it as a Letter to the Editor. We would've happily done the same for the teachers union, or anyone else involved in the narrative who voiced a thoughtful response.