When the Governor's Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership opens its doors in Kentucky, it will do so with the goal of getting parents more involved in their children's academic lives. The Institute's mission will be to empower parents to take a more active role in determining the future direction of their local education system, which includes greater participation in parent-teacher groups, local school boards and school councils.
Kentucky residents who wish to get involved will have an opportunity to enroll in a 24-month mentoring program offered by the Institute, which will introduce them to the ins and outs of the state's academic system. Institute leaders say that parents will graduate from the course having learned "the business of education," leaving them more able to understand the problems confronting state schools today.
Their attempts at involvement will no longer be thwarted by unfamiliar jargon and impenetrable quantitative reports. The goal at graduation will be to have parents not only fully cognizant of the current issues facing K-12 education in the state but also ready to provide solutions for those issues as well.
Parents will also learn to understand how a school's budget works and how to maximize resources. The goal is to train parents specifically in partnering with educators and administrators to enhance student achievement. Institute administrators estimate that every CIPL graduate mentors another 20 parents, which exponentially enhances the program's impact on Kentucky students.
The CIPL will be building on top of the work done by the existing Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, which has been working for more than 15 years on ways to keep parents in the loop on education. Over 1,600 Kentucky parents have gone through the programs offered by the CIPL, with many going on to take leadership positions in their schools, districts and even at state level. According to KYForward.com, CIPL boasts recruiting two people who have served on the Kentucky Board of Education.
Furthermore, as CIPL expanded its reach, it created a self-perpetuating network among the state's parents. Those who go through CIPL later go on to recruit and mentor up to 20 other parents each – all in service of giving parents a greater voice in their children's education.
"We know how important it is to invest in education for the future of Kentucky, and we can't overlook parents as a critical resource," said Gov. Steve Beshear said. "Engaging families in improving schools has benefits that extend far beyond the students whose parents participate in the training. We have parents in our communities who want to help our schools and our students achieve excellence. The Governor's Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership will help them do that."
In the end, the aim of the Institute is to convince parents that with the right preparation they can have a real, positive impact on student achievement statewide.