Parents and families are key to educational success - Granite Grok

Parents and families are key to educational success

by Frank Edelblut – Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Education   |  

ALL OF THE education research tells us that when parents and families are active participants in a student’s education, the attainment and outcomes are better.

So why are some New Hampshire legislators working so hard to exclude parents from the education decisions that affect their children?

When students are surveyed on non-academic topics, our law requires that educators get parental permission. Some of these non-academic surveys ask very personal questions, so it only makes sense that parents should be asked for permission before children are asked about sensitive and personal topics regarding themselves and their families.

The legislature recently tried to water down this requirement, limiting parent involvement to an opt-out provision but not requiring that parents grant permission.

We require parent permission for lots of things in school, everything from field trips to taking an aspirin for a headache. Thank you, Governor Sununu, for vetoing that legislation and keeping parents engaged in their children’s education.

Every year, New Hampshire students in 3rd-8th and 11th grade take summative assessments in English, math and science. These assessments give us good feedback on where students stand academically. By law, these assessment results are required to go back to parents. In fact, Section 1111(b)(2)(B)(ii) of the federal Every Student Succeed Act requires that parents receive “coherent and timely information about student attainment of such standards and whether the student is performing at the student’s grade level.”

We know that many schools struggle to get these assessment results back to students and some schools do not get them back timely or simply not at all. When a bill was presented to help the schools with this requirement, some in the legislature said no. We will continue to work with all schools to help them meet their federal requirement and help their parents stay informed on how well their children are learning.

Learn Everywhere is an innovative program to give students more learning opportunities around the state. We know that many of our children do not thrive in the traditional school learning environment.

We also know that if we can find alternative learning settings where they can be successful, that success spreads and they do better across the board.

Learn Everywhere is another example of giving parents and families a stronger voice in the education of their children. In fact, parents are the most local control you can get. You might say that Learn Everywhere puts the “local” in local control by empowering parents to be engaged in their children’s education.

It puzzles me that some lawmakers want to limit parent involvement in their children’s education.

[emphasis not in original]