Los Angeles Involves Parents In Classroom Spending Decisions

A group of 100 parents has been commissioned to make recommendations on the financial plans of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent John Deasy, reports Anne Gilbertson for Southern California Public Radio. The goal is to give parents more input on classroom spending.

Of the group of 100, 50 are focusing on LAUSD’s  proposed 2015-2016 schools budget.  The document they are perusing is the Local Accountability Plan.  Their comments include: an observation that the language is difficult to decipher; an opinion that the information is non-contextual; a question concerning custodial pay being combined with student oriented goals;  an inquiry concerning what the highest needs of a certain school were; the worry that money was not being divided up equally; a question as to why so much money is being spent on foster children; an observation that English learners are getting 3 times the money they got last year, while there are 10 times as many students.  The parent committee feels there is something wrong with the system.

Dolores Garcia, a pre-K teacher at San Miguel Elementary School is a strong proponent for parent involvement in her students’ school experiences.  Garcia works in the School Readiness Language Development Program (SRLDP), and has seen first-hand how much difference parents can make in their child’s educational success.  The SRLDP is free and aids in comprehension skills for children from low income or bi-lingual homes.  The development of academic readiness is the program’s goal.

In the 1970s, this program was designed to include parents in the classroom , in fact, their assistance was a mandatory part of their children’s learning and included meetings and classroom participation on a monthly basis.  Not only language, but hygiene, health, and nutrition were included topics for parents.  The classes ran four days a week, and used Friday as a day for for teacher preparation.

SRLDP suffered after negotiations with the LAUSD and protest marches by parents and teachers followed cutbacks in 2011.  The cuts resulted in the removal of the parental portion of this program.  Now classes are larger, Garcia has 36 students, and they meet five days a week.  Silvia Leon, an SRLDP teacher, says the impact of losing parental involvement has made a big difference.

…some research suggests parent involvement can lead to students attending school regularly, earning higher grades and test scores, enrolling in higher-level programs, developing better social skills and more likely to graduate to go on to post-secondary education, according the National Education Association.
Leon says she still invites parents to come to her class and even has a few who volunteer daily.  She hopes the rumors that her program will once again be altered next year include at least one Friday a month when parents can be educated, too.

On May 7-10 the California State PTA Annual Convention took place in Los Angeles with thousands of parents, educators, administrators and advocates in attendance, reported The Herald.  They, too,  acknowledged the importance of parent-involvement in public schools.

“With the recent education reforms and the focus on parent engagement in schools, the voice of parents is more important than ever,” said California State PTA President Colleen A.R. You. “California State PTA’s Annual Convention is the place to get the latest information on key issues – from the Local Control Funding Formula to Common Core Standards to health and safety issues for children — and to reaffirm PTA’s commitment and passion for advocating for the well-being of children.”