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For excellence and equity in public schools

Family Engagment Centers 

May 15, 2018

The U.S. Department Of Education Tried To 
Solicit Input For The Statewide Family Engagement Centers
But Failed To Accomplish This Task. . .

In order for this process to have merit, parents, community stakeholders and/or the American public must take part in the process and truly exercise their
public participation rights. . .  

  Call the Department of Education and ask them to extend the public comment period so more parents, etc. can respond. Call them and ask them to explain why they are only funding twenty centers. Call them and ask them why they are trying to diminish the role of parents in schools by only funding a small number of centers when the public school system, in actuality, needs parents everywhere to understand how its purpose is being fulfilled (or "if" it is being fulfilled). Remind them about the importance of "real" public participation and how it is defined so that parents and community stakeholders can truly understand
what it means to participate in this process --- by clicking  here

In regard to their blog request on participation and/or the process used to "accomplish their mission (????). . .(in this instance)," parents and community stakeholders must understand its purpose for far too many of the former centers failed to support equity and excellence in schools for all students --- and operated on a deficit model. This administrative gap shows that the voices and input of parents and community stakeholders are absolutely needed in school systems around the nation. In other words, the centers failed to speak out about structural inequalities --- as if they could not distinguish between equitable and inequitable practices. Moreover, they never challenged school officials about the number of schools (and their practices) that led (and keep leading) to schools???? with low numbers of students who were not proficient

As a result, they never spoke about best practices and lessons learned with all children in mind or provided all parents with case studies or examples of school effectiveness or the wide range of options that parents must have access to in order to make informed decisions. In this light, they never focused on poor children of color and where they were soaring (Consider NYC Success Academies whose students have outscored "every" district in the state with a student body consisting
mainly of poor children of color. . .). 

Most importantly, even though they called themselves representatives of parents
and their children they never spoke out against the school officials who ---  kept failing to focus on transparency and accountability in schools in a timely manner  (and/or in addressing,  e.g., inaccurate graduation rates, chronic teacher absenteeism, the unfair distribution of effective teachers and/or the disproportionate amount of ineffective teachers placed with children of color. . . They never spoke out against the lower standards for children of color tied to watered down classroom instruction. They never spoke out against weak school safety protocols, etc.).  They never kept school-based inequities a priority area to address no matter where they were found. For example, currently the  state accountability plans are a case in point for they have turned the word "accountability" into a weak, vague (embarrassing) term that renders poor, black children invisible. And yet, many parent administrators (past and present) remain silent about this critical moral concern --- as if they lack the sensitivity or empathy to comprehend this abject development and its impact on young lives.

In other words, state, districts and schools are still creating the conditions for failure in many areas. Clearly, parents should not have to worry about the safety of their children who are sent to school to learn, not die. 

Parents of color should not have to wonder why they have to enroll their children in remedial programming to compensate for
school-based ineffective practices during regular school hours. These are 
practices that support ineffective teachers and leaders and/or
ineffective schools --- when, in essence, this type of  
school-based foundation produces failure.
(MLK spoke about these problems.) 

Parents and community stakeholders should not have to use their tax dollars to  fund research-based parent models that waste their time since they do not address school-based structural inequalities and power imbalances that ignore democratic principles.  

From an educational point of view (that leaves racism behind) the centers must focus on equity and excellence concerns as their major focus. They must not automatically focus on   compensatory programming (a strategy that supports  deficit models and inferiority) as if certain stereotypes are, indeed, accurate rather than inaccurate, (a fact that says more about the promoters of these ideas than the children anyway). Children, of course, deserve equal opportunities 
to learn. They deserve educational content tied to high standards. (This is not January 1, 1863 – March 31, 1877.) Centers then, without exception, must expect parents and community stakeholders to ask what their state, district and local schools are doing to support the best life chances for all children, not just some. They must focus on
best practices and lessons learned.

As we all know, many educators, instead, like to talk about best practices without mentioning the actual strategies tied to their effective implementation, which is a telltale sign that they have overlooked lessons learned.  They also like to  promote the research studies that cover up their own ineffectiveness by promoting invalid and unreliable studies that focus on untruths or the notion that black children, in essence, cannot learn due to their home situations rather than school-based failures. 

Since Secretary DeVos (at least in this announcement) mentions or focuses on engagement  at the systemic level of analysis, it is important for parents and community stakeholders to view this as a new form of engagement where their voices and input are truly tied to school effectiveness on many different levels. If parents are the missing link in school reform efforts then they must be the ones who fill this vacuum. Clearly, this has not been the case in the past specifically in states/districts/schools where parent leaders have merely served as puppets for state officials and teachers unions --- who, in turn,  forgot about the voices and input of  
parents and community stakholders --- or who they were charged with serving. 
This must change.)