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Secretary Duncan Announces Parents’ Set of Rights at National PTA Convention

Sep 27, 2017, 10:52 AM

At National PTA’s Convention on Friday, June 26, the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a set of rights that outline what families should be able to expect for their children’s education. The rights identify three aspects of high-quality educational opportunities that every parent should be able to obtain for their child.

To help prepare every student for success in life, families have a right to:

  • Access high quality preschool
  • A safe, supportive, well-resourced school with challenging academic standards
  • Affordable, quality, post-secondary education or training opportunities

During his remarks, Duncan emphasized that the set of rights take place during three pivotal stages of a student’s life. In addition, they prepare them for success in college and careers as engaged, productive citizens.

National PTA agrees that all parents should have access to high quality early learning opportunities for their children. Research shows that providing effective, targeted support and interventions to children and parents beginning at birth leads to higher levels of long term education and career achievement. Additional studies also point to the enormous benefits of early childhood education such as Head Start. For example, a study found that Head Start participants are about 8.5 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school, 6 percentage points more likely to have attempted at least one year of college, less likely to be unemployed, no longer enrolled in school or in poor health (Deming, 126, 2009). Early childhood education is not just a priority for our children and families; but it is the right investment to make..

National PTA also supports having high standards that demand a lot from students but are also consistent, articulate, and developed collaboratively with educators, parents and students. Yet, parents are acutely aware that their children cannot achieve to their full potential if they do not feel safe and supported at school. Policymakers and schools can and should do more to prevent bullying and school violence and prioritize education funding to provide the necessary resources to support teachers, counselors, and other school and instructional support staff.

Every parent should have the opportunity to ensure their children have acquired the necessary 21st century skills through high standards, access to post-secondary education and/or career training. These skills are critical to ensuring a strong economy and a vibrant future. Today’s workplace requires employees to be able to think on their feet, make decisions and solve problems. As the demand for highly skilled workers continues to increase, it is imperative that America’s youth are prepared with critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary to engage in our complex work environments and compete in our global economy.

Parents are not only an integral part in their children’s lives at home but are crucial to their success in school. Collectively, parents have the power to transform educational opportunity in this country.

National PTA remains committed to working with Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education to ensure every child has access to high-quality educational opportunities throughout their life and the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

Join Secretary Duncan in a Twitter chat to continue the dialogue he started at National PTA’s Convention on family engagement in education on July 1 at 1:30 p.m., ET, using #PTChat.


Lindsay Kubatzky is the government affairs coordinator at National PTA.

Deming, D. (2009). Early Childhood Intervention and Life-Cycle Skill Development: Evidence from Head Start. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(3), 111-134.