Parents and Community

Parents are uniquely positioned to catapult their children’s education to the highest levels. They know their children best, and they care the most. And they have an increasing array of options for their children’s schooling, with approximately 15 million students attending schools other than their assigned public schools. Millions of others choose preschools every year.

Yet parents often lack the know-how to make the best decisions about their children’s education and to help improve the schools and preschools their kids attend. Many are intimidated by their lack of expertise, and others who are well-informed need help communicating effectively with school staff. We need a large-scale effort to inspire and equip parents to play their central role in education.

pickycover105The core of our work in this area is our book, Picky Parent Guide: Choose Your Child’s School with Confidence, published by Armchair Press in 2004.Buy the complete book
Download chapters and tools for free
preschoolEBookBigImageWe’re also partnering with The Savvy Source, an outstanding new online resource providing parent-gathered information about pre-schools, to offer an e-book to help parents choose preschools.Find the e-book here.

Building Family and Community Demand for Dramatic Change in Schools

Change thumbnailDistrict-led, dramatic change efforts in failing schools—including turnarounds and school closures—often face strong resistance from families and communities. Resistance may be based on years of tension and distrust between districts and communities, failed past school improvement efforts, or a lack of understanding about the chasm between a failing school’s performance and what is possible. We asked what districts and community organizations have done to engage families and communities in demanding dramatic change in their schools and how various stakeholders have been involved in establishing shared values and goals for change, choosing from available options, and holding districts accountable for improving outcomes for children. This report and related presentation share lessons learned about the barriers districts and communities across the country have faced in building community demand for dramatic change as well as strategies for overcoming those barriers. The report includes three vignettes about efforts to build community demand for dramatic change in Denver, Philadelphia, and Chicago schools. Report [pdf]  Presentation [pdf]

Articles and Media Appearances on Choosing Schools

Shopping for a School: Here’s how to find the right fit for your elementary-aged child—whether you’re moving into a new community or simply assessing your neighborhodd options, Ellen H. Parlapiano,, 2007.

“Parents Take Choice Driver’s Seat, But Few Have a Map,” Education Week, September 2004. Commentary by Bryan and Emily Hassel.

“School Choice: Knowing What’s a Good Fit for Your Child,” Appearance by Bryan Hassel on National Public Radio’s The Parents’ Journal with Bobbi Conner, May 2005.