New Report Focuses on Minority Parent Engagement

A report out today identifies best practices for bridging the minority parent-school divide, compiled from study of leading educational organizations from across the U.S. It also outlines policy recommendations to Congress and the U.S. Department of Education as it prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the year ahead.

Co-authored by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the NEA, the report aims to increase minority parents’ involvement in their children’s schools by identifying obstacles their participation. It recommends strategies for parents, schools and communities to come together and overcome these obstacles.

In October 2009, NEA and MALDEF brought together parents and leaders of national and community based organizations in Los Angeles, in an effort to better identify the obstacles to minority parent engagement. The report that resulted from those conversations, “Minority Parent and Community Engagement: Best Practices and Policy Recommendations for Closing the Gaps in Student Achievement,” will be a useful tool for boosting minority student achievement, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said Thursday. Countless studies have proven the link between parent enagagement in schools and student success.

“But too often there are barriers – ranging from language to resources and skills – that hinder adult involvement,” Van Roekel said. “And too often great ideas are not shared.”

These obstacles are especially problematic in ethnic minority communities, where so many students are at academic risk.

“NEA is proud to partner with MALDEF to remove these barriers and spur new opportunities to work together for student success,” Van Roekel said. “We hope this guide will inspire teachers, families, and anyone involved in schools to seek new ways to collaborate so that all students can achieve their dreams.”

Founded in 1968, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) is a leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” it promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.