April 5, 2007
Six months after the release of Appleseed’s report, “It Takes A Parent: Transforming Education in the Wake of the No Child Left Behind Act,” the issue took center stage on Capitol Hill last week — with Appleseed’s work playing an important role in a Senate hearing and at the National Parent Teacher Association’s briefing on the subject. Appleseed was also one of several organizations offering consultation and information to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s staff as he finalizes a No Child Left Behind (NCLB) amendment on parent involvement.
Nationally and in the six states where the research took place, Appleseed has been a key player in shaping public debate and pubic policy on this crucial, but often overlooked, component of education reform. Appleseed’s leadership position was noted at a hearing held March 28 by the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. The topic of the hearing: “Effective Strategies for Engaging Parents and Communities in Schools.” The “It Takes A Parent” report and the work of Education Policy Director Edwin Darden were praised by one of the testifying witnesses, Anne Henderson, a senior fellow at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform. She noted in her testimony that the Appleseed report revealed that NCLB’s parental involvement provisions are “at the bottom of the list” of priorities in the law, and that they must be given the serious attention they deserve.
Appleseed also submitted written testimony of its own, calling on schools, communities and policy makers to provide the access and tools that would allow parent involvement in school reform to “go beyond baking cupcakes for school events or sitting passively in the back of the room.”
On March 27, the National Parent Teacher Association released its recommendations for policy and legislative changes focusing on parental involvement in No Child Left Behind. Appleseed’s work was prominently mentioned at PTA’s briefing at the U.S. Capitol, and the recommendations offered by the PTA tracked well with the “It Takes A Parent” report. PTA’s recommendations include designating an office or position of parent involvement within every state department of education, requiring clearer and easily accessible data to parents on school performance and creating greater incentives under the federal law to encourage school-community partnerships. “It is clear that NCLB’s idea of seeking better informed and engaged parents is gaining traction as an important legislative matter,” said Darden. “As lawyers and policy advocates, it is gratifying to see our hard work on this report and the ongoing efforts by the Appleseed Centers lead to real results. All this activity has the potential to ignite a seismic and long-term impact on student learning.”