One of the great things about this forum is the fact that we are getting more and more parents involved in how our schools work. “Parent involvement” is key in making sure our kids get the education we want for them.
It’s also a topic that has been near and dear to my heart for quite some time, and I thought I’d recap what I know about “how you can be involved” here. Much of this is more applicable to “normal” times than now, but hopefully we’ll be back to normal shortly.
First and foremost - get involved at your school. Go to Back-to-School night. Attend your principal’s monthly “coffee talks” (and if they don’t have one, ask them why not?). Attend PTO meetings – and join them. Join and participate in booster clubs. Run for site council. Volunteer to help in classrooms or with fundraisers. Attend any other meetings they may have of parents in your school.
Bookmark your school’s website, check out it’s calendar, ask the admin there to get on any distribution lists that might notify you of events. For our district to notify all parents parents in a school of an upcoming event is a trivially easy thing. They have the software systems, sending out a message is free, takes seconds, and can hit everyone in the school via all methods – email, text, and all-call instantly.
If you find events being held without properly notifying all parents, with enough advance notice so people can participate, raise a ruckus! There is almost no reason at all that every single school event involving parents cannot be sent out via all methods – email, text and all-call – at least a week in advance. Parents have “things to do”, having a school let you know today that there is a meeting tomorrow – in the middle of the day – is not acceptable. Sometimes everyone gets busy and they need a reminder . BE that reminder for your school. And feel free to post those events here if you find out about them, so everyone will know.
Make your voice heard!
You are the one who knows how your school is running – for your kids – better than anyone else. We all get discouraged over the fact that many of us have DONE that in the past and “nothing happens”, but you can’t just stop. They’re your kids, right?
Next up, get involved with your district.
Being here, in this group, is a start – a great way to stay in touch with what’s going on overall and share opinions among us – but It’s very much the tip of the iceberg.
What else can you do?
Attend Board Meetings. Now, more than ever, that is a low hurdle. It’s usually only a couple hours, once a week. You can do that to stay in touch with your district, can’t you?
We try to post Board meeting notices here, but you should bookmark a link to your own district’s site for such things. If you click the Popular Topics to the right for your District you’ll likely come up with a past listing for a board meeting that may have that information in it.
Sign up for comment! Here is where you can really make your views known. Yes, not all of us are comfortable with that – but it’s your kids, right? Speak up!
The link for that varies by Board meeting but that link is always in the agenda. We’ll be posting that in this group as well.
Email your Board members! These are the people who represent you. Make sure they know what your opinion is. And if you let them know and they don’t do what you feel parents want, let them know you’re going to vote “someone else” in the next election.
Almost every district has a web page with bios and a way to contact your board members by email.
Attend District Parent Advisory Committee (DPAC) or English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) meetings! These don’t happen during the summer. Given the crises nature of what we’re going through I’ve suggested we hold some anyway, but have not seen a plan for that to happen.
Both committees have official memberships – generally drawn from members of your school’s site councils – but they are open meetings, ANYONE is welcome to attend, via zoom or in person.
Both committees are legally defined in California Law as the way for parents to provide input to their district. EdCode 52063 (a) (1) The governing board of a school district shall establish a parent advisory committee to provide advice to the governing board of the school district and the superintendent of the school district regarding the requirements of this article.
Both committees are allowed to interact with district admin in ways that give them the power to demand responses on some things. I was the co-leader of the Oceanside Unified DPAC for several years and met some truly involved parents there, be one of those, use that power! Meeting schedules can be found on your district’s website, and if not be sure to contact them and find out why not!
For a primer on how our schools are funded you can go here.
The State requires the District to use parent input to guide their spending priorities, through something called the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP.) I was the first parent representative on the OUSD LCAP committee and served there for three years. I know this process, and if there is any problem in it it’s that parents have not been loud enough in insisting the District pay attention to their priorities.
There are many, many issues that concern parents about how the district runs, but the root of everything is how our money is spent. Be part of that conversation!
Normally the LCAP feedback process runs from about January through June, but this year the state is allowing that process to happen later – this fall. Be part of that process!
Check out the district’s LCAP page for more details on how you can do that.
LCAP is at it’s heart a process to help improve YOUR school, and as such there are meetings held through each school to discuss that. As I’ve mentioned above, it’s up to YOU to make sure your school is having such meetings – and notifying everyone properly to get maximum parent involvement. Don’t’ be shy about letting your principal know if you feel they’re falling short on that.
And if anyone knows of an LCAP meeting that is happening at their school and wants to publicize it here – post that to this site for your fellow parents to see!
And there are a number of committees that invite parent involvement – facilities committees, bond committees, personnel committees, etc. If you’ve got the time and inclination, join them!
Stay in touch with education data and news!
There are some excellent data sources, with reliable data provided by the state’s Department of Education, and some great education reporters covering our area as well as the state.
Other information resources
Facebook friends are great, but don’t get all your data or news there – keep track of some of these sources to get other perspectives.
California Department of Education. Great source for real data, not so easy to use for news…
Ed-Data. Another great source for real data.
Calfornia School Dashboard. Want to see how the state sees our district’s performance? Here you go…
EdSource Dashboard Comparison. The official site does not allow you to compare districts or schools, EdSource has built a tool that allows for that.
The San Diego Union Tribune. They have some outstanding reporters these days on education.
Voice of San Diego. Ditto, and they tend to have a more “watchdog” approach, going into detail on some of the issues being addressed at schools in our county. They also have a great podcast on education issues in our county.
Coast News. Often publishes content focused on more local issues.
Del Mar Times. More content on local issues
KPBS. Great for highlights on big stories in our area.
EdSource. Focused only on Education in our state. A great staff and resource for what is happening throughout the state. They also have a really good podcast for keeping up on things perfect for your commute drive time. Edweek. A good resource, unfortunately limited to a few articles a month without paying.
California Policy Center. More opinion-based but good to get a view from different perspectives.
CalMatters. Again, more opinion-based but good for their view.
Transparent California. Data on pay levels in all public agencies, including school districts
And Facebook groups
Informed Parents of San Diego (advocacy for more traditional values and alternative schooling methods) - https://www.facebook.com/groups/InformedParentsofNorthCountySanDiego/
San Diego North County Homeschool Network (private group devoted to homeschooling issues) - https://www.facebook.com/groups/528251657826193/
Open Our Schools (a group to discuss reopening our schools for in-person learning and put pressure on districts to do that) – http://www.facebook.com/groups/openourschools or http://openourschools.org
I’m sure I’m missing something, if you have a resource you’d like to suggest, comment in in here and I’ll revise this periodically.
As you can see there are a huge number of ways you can get involved, let’s do it!