New Web Site Aims to Increase Meaningful Parent Involvement in Schools

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ParentInvolvementMatters.Org was recently launched to encourage successful family-school-community partnerships and increase meaningful parent involvement in schools. It provides free information and resources to parents, educators and trainers, including articles, success stories, programs and a consultant directory to connect professionals with the schools and parent groups who need their services.

A just-launched Web site, ParentInvolvementMatters.org, aims to increase meaningful parent involvement both at school and at home, and to encourage successful family-school-community partnerships. The site was created by a grassroots group of parents, educators, counselors, psychologists, school administrators and professional trainers who advocate involvement beyond bake sales and traditional school volunteering.

Marilyn Price-Mitchell, president of the nonprofit ParentInvolvementMatters.org, explains, "Most schools miss the opportunity to foster the type of parent involvement that contributes to better parenting and higher-achieving students. Instead, they deluge parents with requests to fill volunteer jobs and raise money. While these activities are essential to the survival of many schools, they don't help kids develop into successful adults.

"We want to change the definition of what it means to be an 'involved' parent," Price-Mitchell continues. "Our new Web site is a clearinghouse of ideas and tools for anyone who's interested in a deeper level of involvement. Parents must teach respect, discipline, and a love of learning at home, and hold their kids accountable for their behavior and academic performance. In turn, schools must listen to parents, collaborate with them, and teach them how to become effective advocates and problem-solvers in their children's education. ParentInvolvementMatters.org shows how this can be done."

ParentInvolvementMatters.org offers free information and resources, including a list of organizations that support parents and schools, a list of parent education programs, current research on parent involvement in education, and articles about parent involvement by professionals in the field. The site also highlights success stories submitted by schools who have found positive ways to involve parents, and features a consultant directory to connect professional advocates for parent involvement with the schools and parents who need their services. There is even a bookstore, where the latest and best books on parent involvement can be found in one spot.

ParentInvolvementMatters.org is supported by a national advisory board of leading professionals in the field, including: Leonard Goodstein, former executive vice president of the American Psychological Association; Anne T. Henderson, a senior consultant with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform in Washington, D.C. and author of Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family/School Partnerships; Kate Mattos, communications counsel for the National Education Association; Jane Nelson, author of the Positive Discipline series of books; and Mary Pipher, a clinical psychologist and best-selling author of Reviving Ophelia.

ParentInvolvementMatters.org is also the home of ParentNet, a 10-year-old parent involvement program that has been successfully used in more than 35 schools nationwide, and whose free program materials can be accessed on the site and used by any school.

Price-Mitchell, a co-creator of ParentNet, says that there's more than one way to foster meaningful parent involvement in schools. "ParentNet is an excellent tool -- but it's just one tool that can be used. ParentInvolvementMatters.org recognizes that there are many programs and resources available -- and offers them up in one online community. Every school is different, and our site shows the wide realm of programs and practices that can truly build strong family-school-community partnerships."

Improved parent involvement in schools is one of the eight goals set forth by the National Education Goals Panel and endorsed by Presidents Bush and Clinton. The latest research by Public Agenda shows that the most important type of involvement is what parents do at home that makes a positive difference in the academic, social, and emotional development of their children.

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Marilyn Price-Mitchell
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