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ESEA Reauthorization Needs Stronger Family Engagement Provisions

Sep 27, 2017, 10:52 AM

Last week, the education magazine Education Week published an article on the rise of family engagement as a priority for schools and districts across the country. The article spotlights states and districts in which family engagement initiatives are part of long-term, integrated and high-impact strategies to bolster student achievement. It is an important piece to help underscore the critical role family engagement and family-school partnerships play in children’s learning and growth. The article also is timely considering the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind (ESEA/NCLB) and National PTA’s work to include stronger family engagement provisions in the bill.

One of PTA’s founding principles is its dedication to advocating for and engaging parents in the education of their children. The association firmly believes that family engagement is at the core of student success and school improvement.

ESEA/NCLB has been up for reauthorization since 2007. National PTA has consistently advocated for bipartisan reauthorization of the law and the inclusion of robust family engagement provisions. Currently, the U.S. Senate has a bipartisan reauthorization bill, the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), that is expected to be debated and voted on in the next few weeks. At this time, the bill does not include critical improvements that prioritize family engagement.

More than 40 years of research shows – no matter a family’s income or socioeconomic background – family engagement in education is essential for student success. Students whose families are involved 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 improvement as well as plays a key role in helping communities grow strong and thrive.

National PTA calls on the Senate to include provisions in the Every Child Achieves Act that would provide states and districts the capacity and necessary resources to support effective family engagement strategies in every school for every child and family.

As a parent and the leader of the nation’s oldest and largest child advocacy association, I have seen firsthand the positive impact of family engagement on school improvement and students’ academic achievement. I also have witnessed the ability of engaged families and schools to come together and make true, meaningful improvement at the local level. It is essential that the reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB provide for family engagement as it is proven to make a difference for children, schools and communities.

We will need PTA advocates to gear up for action on the Senate floor to strengthen family engagement provisions. Stay tuned for more updates on the reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB through the One Voice Blog and by following @NationalPTA on Twitter.

Together, we can take action to help every child succeed academically and reach his or her full potential.


Otha Thornton is president of National PTA.