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National PTA Commends Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Family Engagement in Education

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Heidi May Wilson, Media Relations Manager

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (March 2, 2015) Today, the Family Engagement in Education Act was reintroduced in the House and the Senate as a means to empower parents, improve capacity for states, and provide much-needed resources for schools to build effective family-school partnerships and increase student achievement. The act was first introduced in both the House and Senate in 2011.

“More than 40 years of research shows that when families are engaged and families and schools work together, students attend school more regularly, earn better grades, enroll in higher-level programs and have higher graduation rates. Research also shows that family engagement is essential for school turnarounds,” said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA.

“National PTA firmly believes that family engagement is at the core of student success and school improvement. The association commends Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Mark Desaulnier (D-CA) and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Chris Coons (D-DE) for their bipartisan leadership and continued commitment to the importance of family engagement and family-school partnerships to ensure every child succeeds academically and reaches his or her full potential.”

Intended to inform comprehensive reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind, the Family Engagement in Education Act targets federal resources—a small portion (.3%) 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 investment in family engagement for qualifying local education agencies. Additionally, the bill would establish a framework for family engagement that is flexible to allow administrators, teachers and families to use what works best for their communities.

According to research published in the Journal of Human Resources, family engagement can raise student academic achievement so significantly that schools would need to spend an additional $1000 per pupil to receive the same academic results. In addition, as illustrated in a study on school improvement in low-income elementary schools in urban Chicago, schools with strong family engagement were 10 times more likely to improve in math and four times more likely to improve in reading than schools weak on this measure. Surveys of teachers also show that family engagement is a top priority, yet at the same time, an area in which they feel the least supported.

“One of National PTA’s founding principles is its dedication to engaging families in education, as it is proven to make a difference for children, schools and communities,” added President Thornton. “The association remains committed to working with Congress to ensure funds are targeted for family engagement, and it urges the House and the Senate to take swift action to move forward the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2015. The legislation is a common sense step in the right direction and a crucial piece in education reform.”   

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.