National PTA Commends Bi-Partisan Family Engagement Legislation
Director of Strategic Communications
ALEXANDRIA, VA (July 11, 2013)—Today, the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2013 was introduced in the House and the Senate as a means to empower parents, improve capacity for states, and provide much-needed resources for schools to improve family engagement.
Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-PA/5) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY/5), and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will introduce the much-anticipated legislation. Intended to inform comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind, the Family Engagement in Education Act would engage all parties with a stake in improving student achievement and school performance.
“National PTA firmly believes that family engagement is at the core of children’s success,” National PTA President Otha Thornton said. “We commend these legislators for advocating on behalf of American families and their children. This bipartisan legislation is crucial in maintaining partnerships between families, schools and the community that ensure student success.”
The Family Engagement in Education Act prioritizes family engagement by targeting federal resources—a small portion (.3 percent) of Title I administrative funds— for state capacity building and the establishment of at least one Local Family Engagement Center to serve the highest-need areas. The legislation would also increase the investment in family engagement locally for qualifying local agencies. With the proper funding and tools, those closest to America’s schools would have the decision-making ability to systemically embed a lasting family engagement infrastructure that is research based and results driven, but flexible in its application.
“Schooling doesn’t begin and end in the classroom. Parents and other family members play a critical role in a child’s education, too,” Rep. McCarthy said. “This bill recognizes that students do better when their families are engaged in their academics and would help ensure that this important relationship is a part of public education in America.”
Research demonstrates that family engagement in a child’s education improves attendance and grades, and reduces dropout rates. In fact, for every parent or family member that moves from “no involvement” to “slightly engaged” in a school, the rise in the level of achievement is equivalent to a $1000 increase in per-pupil spending. The value of a “highly engaged” parent to a school is even more.
"Too often parental engagement tapers off after elementary school,” Rep. Thompson said. “The Family Engagement in Education Act will provide a frame work that will encourage parents to get out of the bleachers and back into the classroom. The competitiveness of the next generation depends upon it.”
Recent surveys of teachers show that family engagement was identified as a top priority, yet also the area in which teachers feel the least supported. In addition, Title I Administrators repeatedly cite family engagement as a top barrier to effective implementation of federal funds.
“When parents are involved with their children’s education it not only improves schools but also strengthens communities. The Family Engagement in Education Act is a smart investment that will increase resources to strengthen parental involvement and ultimately improve the school community, help educate our future workforce, and strengthen our economy,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.
“It’s no secret that students strive harder and perform better when families are actively engaged in their education,” Sen. Coons said. “We can create a brighter future for our country’s youth by ensuring that educators, community organizations, and family members have the resources they need to work together effectively. This legislation will help more families become and remain a driving force in their children¹s academic success.”
About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. Learn more at PTA.org.