Beyond the bake sale chapter 7 Supporting Advocacy

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BEYOND THE BAKE SALE
CHAPTER 7
Supporting Advocacy
HOW CAN “PROBLEM PARENTS” BECOME
PARTNERS YOU CAN WORK WITH?
Realistically … this is tough territory!
How do you diffuse angry parents who are
probably carrying a load of emotional baggage
that dates back to their own days in school?
 How can you handle high-powered professional
parents who insist on having their way?

Both of these types of parents want to protect, help,
or get a better deal for their children. They are
trying to be advocates, but don’t know how to act
constructively.
Page 151
NO EASY SOLUTIONS!


Parents like these take up a lot of staff time and
energy
Beyond The Bake Sale doesn’t pretend to have
easy answers to this problem, but the approach
the book recommends has two parts.
Page 152
PART ONE


First, recognize that parents have the right to
influence what happens to their children in
school.
Be very clear that their requests will be treated
with respect, as long as they are made in a civil
manner.
Page 152
PART TWO
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Second, set up a proactive process for
collaborating with families to monitor student
progress, address their difficulties, and plan for
their future.
Explain the process clearly and apply it fairly.
The goal is to avoid a situation in which families
have (or seem to have) a lot of inside influence,
while others have (or feel they have) little or
none.
Page 152
SOME PROBLEMS CAN BE PREVENTED
Remember…

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Develop trusting relationships that welcome and
honor families – from Chapter 4
Address differences of culture, race, and class
and discuss these differences openly – from
Chapter 6
Page 152
ADVOCACY CONFRONTS EVERY TEACHER, BUT NEEDS
TO BE RESOLVED WITH SCHOOL-WIDE STRATEGIES
4 Practices that your action team can promote to
encourage and support parents to be constructive
advocates for their children
1. Work with families, teachers, and other staff
so they can understand what it means to be an
advocate, develop and use their advocacy skills,
and learn how to resolve a problem.
 2. Collaborate with families to monitor their
children’s progress, give them a voice in their
children’s placement or program, and figure out
how to assist their children when they’re
struggling.

Page 152
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3. Give families and students the information
and support they need to make smooth
transitions to kindergarten, middle school, and
high school, and from there to postsecondary
education and a career.
4. Help families be actively involved in setting
goals for their children’s future, steering them
toward higher-level programs, and planning for
postsecondary education.
Pages 152-153
HELP FAMILIES UNDERSTAND WHAT AN
ADVOCATE DOES…
Advocates:
 Set high expectations and follow their children’s
progress – monitoring attendance, homework,
grades, and test scores
 Help the student set goals and plan for the future
 Steer the student through the system, selecting
courses and programs that match his or her goals
 Intervene if the student is under pressure, has a
problem, or is being treated unfairly
 Get assistance when needed, such as tutoring,
medical attention, or counseling
Page 153
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Monitor the student’s out-of-school time and
make sure it is spent in constructive activities
Line up other educational activities, such as
sports, recreation, drama, music lessons.
As a school, we can work to make sure
families have this type of information to
become effective advocates for their child.
A few ways to communicate these messages:
(newsletters, family workshops, school messengers,
parent-teacher conferences)
Page 153
POWER IS POSITIVE


The more parents feel that they have the power
to influence their children’s future positively, the
better their children tend to do in school. This is
called “efficacy” – the power to have an effect.
For us as educators, it is all about giving good
information to parents to help them be effective
advocates. We need to help parents know how to
“press for success.”
Page 154
EXAMPLES OF ADVOCACY
What’s good advocacy?
Requesting a certain
teacher, with the
particular needs of
their child in mind.
 Questioning discipline
policy or methods and
requesting a hearing
with an impartial
advocate.

What’s over the line?
Applying political
pressure to get “the
best teachers” for
their own child.
 Refusing to accept a
teacher’s word or
criticizing classroom
discipline in front of
their child.

Page 155
HELPING FAMILIES UNDERSTAND AND USE
ADVOCACY TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS
 Parents
have to understand how the school
works
5 ideas for introducing families to the school
1.
2.
Hold an orientation at the start of the school year
and introduce the entire staff. Give families a
chance to meet them personally.
Put a diagram or chart of the school’s organization
in the school handbook. Explain how and when
parents can contact the principal, teachers,
counselors, and other staff. Let them know, step by
step, how to resolve an issue or concern.
Page 156
HELPING FAMILIES UNDERSTAND AND USE
ADVOCACY TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS
 Parents
have to understand how the
school works
5 ideas for introducing families to the school
3.
4.
Run a regular “who’s who” column in the school
newsletter.
Publish a catalog of all the programs in the
school. Describe how to apply and who is
eligible. Include Title I, special education, AIG,
and others that your school may want to
include.
Page 156
HELPING FAMILIES UNDERSTAND AND USE
ADVOCACY TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS
 Parents
have to understand how the
school works
5 ideas for introducing families to the school
5. Post information on the school website about
school staff, with information in points 2, 3, & 4.
Add a section on the school district – the
superintendent, school board (identify your area’s
representative), and key district staff, plus a link to
the district website. Include a list of district-level
and school-level committees that parents can join.
Page 156
HELPING FAMILIES UNDERSTAND AND USE
ADVOCACY TO RESOLVE PROBLEMS

Parents have to understand how the school works
Families also need information about the curriculum and the
state’s standards:


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
What should their child know and be able to do at each grade
level.
How are the student’s report card grades connected to
standards?
What does the state test measure and how are the results
used?
What is a portfolio and how is it used to assess students?
What is a rubric?
(Curriculum nights, family event nights, student work displays,
parent-teacher conferences – all help to share information with
parents regarding the items listed above)
Page 157
PARENTS MUST UNDERSTAND CHANGES IN
SCHOOL METHODS
When parents attended
school
Students often sat in
rows
 Students often read
textbooks
 Students completed
drill sheets
 Students may repeat
what the textbook
says

Today
Students may sit at
tables
 Students work in
groups on projects
 Students learn
through
manipulatives and
hands-on activities
 Students must do
more critical thinking

Parents want to know how the school teaches reading and math and
to understand these changes.
Pages 157-158
PARENTS NEED TO KNOW HOW TO RESOLVE
PROBLEMS THAT THEIR CHILDREN ARE HAVING
IN SCHOOL

1.
2.
3.
Your problem solving process should answer these
questions:
What is the chain of command – whom should
parents contact if there is a problem?
Where do they go next if the problem isn’t settled at
that level?
How can they work with teachers to define and solve
problems and ensure that students’ rights, opinions,
and needs are respected?
Be proactive. Identify groups of students who may need extra help
and reach out to those families. For example, if the scores of African
American and Latino girls are lagging in science, develop a special
4-week program on family science activities to show families how to
help raise their academic achievement.
Page 159
FAMILIES NEED OPPORTUNITIES TO IDENTIFY
AND HELP SOLVE PROBLEMS THAT AFFECT
MANY OR ALL STUDENTS
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Leadership training programs can help families of all
backgrounds learn and practice the skills they need to be
advocates and problem solvers. They can also improve
student achievement, increase parent involvement, and
have a lasting impact.
Training Resources
Action Alliance for Children describes nine such programs
in its useful guide, Pathways to Parent Leadership.
The Right Question Project (RQP) – more details in Chapter
10.
The Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership (CIPL)
- more details in Chapter 10.
Pages 162-163
IF FUNDING IS UNAVAILABLE FOR NATIONALLY
RECOGNIZED PROGRAMS FOR ADVOCACY…
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Events can still be offered to help parents
partner closely with the school.
REMEMBER: “If parents don’t feel they may
approach teachers or question decisions made by
school staff, how can they be effective advocates
for their children?”
To be heard when they speak out, parents need
someone who is listening. Give parents a voice in
their child’s placement or program and regular
updates on their progress, and work with them to
resolve problems.
Pages 165-166
BUILDING ADVOCACY
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1.
Short of adopting a whole new advocacy program,
Beyond the Bake Sale suggest three examples of
ways to help build advocacy:
The Parent Review: Teachers ask parents for
information about their children: What are their
hobbies, interests, and special skills? Is there
any specific history or situations the teacher
should be aware of? How should parent and
teacher stay in touch about how the child is
doing? (For a sample parent review, see chapter
11)
BUILDING ADVOCACY
2.
3.
The Personal Learning Plan: This is the same as
SCS Personal Education Plan (PEP) for students.
According to our book study, in some schools, only
students who are at risk of failing have such plans;
in others, all students do.
Advocacy Workshops for Parents: In elementary
school, parent advocacy should focus on making sure
that students are learning at a proficient level.
Parents should be trained what questions to ask
teachers and teachers should be trained how to
respond to the questions parents ask. The key is
training and knowing that cultivating a two-way
relationship with parents will help improve student
behavior and performance.
GIVE FAMILIES AND STUDENTS INFORMATION
AND SUPPORT TO MAKE SMOOTH TRANSITIONS
 When
students feel comfortable at school,
they are more likely to attend regularly
and earn higher grades and test scores.
Their comfort level drops when they move
from one school to the next. Explaining
what’s expected, and giving students and
their families a firsthand look at what’s
next, can help them get ready for the next
level of education.
A WELL DESIGNED TRANSITION PLAN
SHOULD HAVE THESE GOALS:
Students and families will be familiar with the
new school staff and facilities.
 School staff and families will know each other
and develop relationships.
 Students will feel safe and connected to the
school – they will know other students, be able to
find their way around the building, meet the
teachers, and understand the program they’ll be
taking.
 Families will feel welcome, know their way
around, and know who to contact to discuss how
their children are doing.

TRANSITION EXAMPLES
Visit to feeder schools – teachers, administrators,
and students visit the feeder schools ( or
preschool programs) to meet with families and
young students and answer their questions.
 Tours of the “new” school – Students and families
take a look at the building, often with student
tour guides, and attend social events and
information sessions about the school and its
programs. Some middle and high schools have
web sites that offer virtual tours, a map of the
building, and a section to answer frequently
asked questions.

TRANSITION EXAMPLES
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A “buddy system” – Incoming students are assigned
an older student “buddy” who takes them under their
wing for a day or two. Some schools have a “spring
sampler” program, where students spend a day at the
next school, in the company of a buddy.
Home Visits – Over the summer, some schools make
home visits to families with children about to enter
kindergarten, and to families who will be new to the
school. The purpose of the visit is to welcome the
families to the school community, make a personal
connection, and leave behind some information about
the school and its programs.
TRANSITION EXAMPLES

Letters and Phone Calls – Teachers send out
letters or phone calls introducing themselves and
welcoming new students to their class. They
include reading lists, useful school supplies,
information about summer programs, and a
summary of what students will be learning the
first month in school. After school starts, sending
a quick note home saying, “Your child had a great
day,” or relating something nice the child did that
first week, goes a long way toward building
relationships.
HELP FAMILIES BE ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN
SETTING GOALS FOR THEIR CHILD’S FUTURE
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1.
2.
3.
Kindergarten is not too early to start thinking about
(and planning for) what a student will do after high
school.
Help families be aware of programs that the school
offers such as AIG, the EC referral process, etc.
When students enter 6th grade, parents need to
understand three things:
Courses that are required for college admission
What students should take each year to complete
the requirements by the end of their senior year
How to navigate the process of applying for college
or other postsecondary education programs – and
how to pay for it.
GOAL SETTING FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH
SCHOOL
The last portion of the chapter deals with middle
and high school programs to help transition
students such as the following:
 An Advisory System
 Study Skills Program
 Student Support Teams
 Individual Graduation Plans
 Family Conferences
 Mother-Daughter Programs
 Moving Beyond Tracking
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FAMILY SUPPORT AT ALL LEVELS
OF EDUCATION FOR STUDENTS IS
KEY TO HELPING OUR STUDENTS!
HOMEWORK
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Complete the checklist on “How Well Does Your
School Support Parents as Advocates?”
Omit questions 16 & 17
Using the checklist, discuss the areas in which
your school is doing well and areas of concern.
Reflect on your school’s next steps to better
support parents as advocates.
Return checklist to
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