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Save the Only Federal Parent Engagement Program

This is a guest blog post by Dee Jones, Indiana PTA Federal Legislative Chair of Indiana PTA and Chair of National PTA's Committee on Diversity.

As a mother of a high school student, I know firsthand the importance of being involved in my child’s education. I first became involved in the schools when my son was enrolled in the Head Start Program. My involvement continued throughout his school years as a member and eventual leader in my local Parent Teacher Association® or PTA® (PTA.org). Now, I work in a low-income school as family involvement coordinator to train parents and school staff on how to work with families to help their children succeed.

When the President released his FY 11 Budget, I was excited to see a historic increase in education funding. However, I was very concerned to see that Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRCs) were consolidated. Under this consolidation, the sole federal program for family engagement would be eliminated and its funding directed to charter schools.

Parental Information and Resource Centers (PIRCs) are non-profit organizations that build the capacity of schools, parents, and districts to meaningfully partner to help students succeed in school. There are 62 PIRCs nationwide, with at least one in each state providing parents with the skills and resources to engage in their child’s education and help their schools improve. To learn about the PIRC in your state, visit nationalpirc.org.

In my home state of Indiana, the PIRC partners with the PTA to conduct parent leadership academies that provide ongoing training to parents on how to navigate the educational system and advocate for and drive school reform. Starting in early childhood, Indiana PIRC works with Parents as Teachers, an early childhood parent training program, to help students and their families transition from Pre-K and kindergarten to elementary school. The PIRC makes sure that family engagement extends to older youth, and has trained low-income parents to become parent liaisons in Indianapolis Public Schools District’s high schools. PIRCs across the country are implementing similar programs and are helping parents and schools work together toward their shared goal of helping students succeed. Eliminating the program will prevent PIRCs from working with parents like me, who have children in regular public schools.

Moms like me deserve opportunities to engage in our children’s education. Schools and districts cannot provide these opportunities to all public school parents without support from the PIRCs. Please send a letter to the President, the Secretary of Education, and your Congressional representatives urging them to safeguard the PIRC program and preserve the federal investment in family engagement in education.

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