Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, together with the Indiana Department of Education, has announced the creation of the Office of Parent and Community Engagement. The aim of the office is to create closer ties between community residents, parents and caretakers and their local schools, as well to canvass them for their insight into the issues confronting the state’s education system.
The flow of information will not be all one-sided. Another key PACE goal is to keep residents in the loop about any education-related developments going on on state level as well as closer to home. Bennett said that the office is an acknowledgment that educating children is a group effort, and the closer the relationship is between schools and their surrounding communities, the better off students will be. Working together will allow Indiana students not only to succeed in their academic pursuits but to continue succeeding long after they left their local schools behind.
Heading up PACE will be Jen Carlton, who will serve is the agency’s first Director of Parent and Community Outreach. Carlton is one of Indiana’s native daughters, having completed her college degree at Indiana State University’s School of Education and spending the early years of her career teaching first grade. Her previous role was as the head of State Senate Internship Program and Indiana Leadership Forum.
“I am thrilled Jen Carlton is joining IDOE in this role,” Bennett said. “As a former educator and a mother of three, Jen understands both the challenges and the opportunities that exist in education for parent engagement. I firmly believe her experiences in and out of the classroom give her the skills and knowledge to improve parent and community engagement in Indiana’s education system.”
For those eager to get involved, PACE already has some ideas which can be found on the agency’s website. For those interested in education reform movement and school choice, there is the Parent Education Partners program, which brings together parents of students in all types of schools – traditional public, magnet, or charter, among others – to discuss the path that education reformers should be taking to improve the quality of education in the state.
Another engagement opportunity listed on PACE website is a Community of Education Ambassadors, which invites parents and residents to sign up for a mailing list that will keep them appraised of all the “hot topics” in education. The mailing list will also provide resources to help parents and teachers work together to help their children succeed.