Robin Roberts SRC testimony transcript June 16, 2016

Robin Roberts 6-16-16 pic

Parent Involvement/ SAC Policy

Parent involvement is essential to student achievement.   We hear it all the time. “Parents who read to their children help with literacy.” “If parent would take care of their bad ass kids, everyone could learn.” We volunteer our time, give our resources, and try to fill the gaping holes left from years of staff and financial cuts (and mismanagement) because we understand that this work is important. The extensive research has shown that shared decision making within school advisory councils greatly improves the climate, culture, and strength of schools. The draft of the SAC policy, and I have to clarify – the second draft, because the final draft is password protected as are the survey results and meeting minutes. So much for the open and transparent process. The draft of SAC policy includes a staggering lack of parent voice and the elimination of parent influence, advocacy, and contribution to the education of our children. It is appalling that the SAC is reduced to an activity that makes it appear that parents are involved in the school, but really…they are not.

All power and control rests with the principal. Prinicipals, like teachers, are already overwhelmed with everything that must be done in their daily routines. It is counterproductive to add this to their responsibilities and expect it to be done properly with fidelity.

Great principals in this district are already surpassing the expectations this policy. They are using it as the floor or framework to build a better school. Poor principals, and there are more than you think, will use this policy as the ceiling, the limit of possibility.

SACs are identified as part of the overall leadership structure at each school. They provide real voice in school based decision making and the power to influence all aspects of the work of the school. They need to be preserved that way. If there are school administrators who are unable to work with a team of involved parents, share pertinent information, and collaborate on creating strong learning community, then maybe you should be looking at minimizing them not us.

Pittsburgh and Norristown public school districts have excellent examples of parent involvement and SAC policy. It is clear that true authentic parent involvement and voice is valued as evident in their stated beliefs, and shared goals. They recognize that student achievement is maximized when there is strong partnership between empowered parents & community stakeholders the school and district.

Robin Roberts PT DPT, MBA

Parents United for Public Education

C.W. Henry and Carver E&S Parent