The Power of Parents in the First State: Delaware PTA and the Common Core

By Yvonne Johnson, President of Delaware PTA, and Susan Brown, President-Elect of Delaware PTA

Never underestimate the power of the parent’s voice!  While there are models that assist schools with parent and family engagement such as Epstein’s Framework of Parent Involvement, parents can also play a pivotal role in partnering with policymakers and stakeholders in education. This partnership allows parents a voice in decisions that affect their children’s education. Through its work to ensure that parents understand upcoming changes brought about by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Delaware PTA (DPTA) has helped to raise the parent voice to create a significant impact across the state.

DPTA’s CCSS committee, a group of dedicated volunteer parent advocates led by President Yvonne Johnson and CCSS Lead/ President-Elect Susan Brown, have been collaborating with superintendents, teachers, community members, education foundations, elected officials and other key stakeholders.  Partnering with these groups on the Common Core has allowed Delaware PTA to bring the parent voice to the table on this initiative as well as other education reform activities.

As a result of its strong working relationships with the Delaware Department of Education and State Board of Education, the Delaware PTA is now a participant of the P-20 Council, a consortium of education advocates working on college and career readiness for children from birth through college. In addition, Yvonne was invited to be a member of the state-wide Common Core Steering Council, contributing the parent perspective to the implementation, alignment and assessment of Delaware’s new standards.

Through partnership and hard work, the Delaware PTA has:

  • Provided opportunities for parents to learn about and discuss the Common Core. In October, the Delaware PTA hosted a Common Core panel during the annual convention which included State Senator David Sokola, Dr. Teri Quinn Gray, President of the State Board of Education and two curriculum experts in English language arts and mathematics from the Department of Education.  At the end of the discussion, parents had the opportunity to continue the conversation on Common Core and assisted the Department of Education by developing a FAQ document. Parents were grateful for the opportunity to connect with decision makers and have stepped up their game as advocates in their own schools.
  • Collaborated with state and national organizations to raise the parent voice. Yvonne was a panelist discussing Common Core in Delaware’s Vision 2015 conference “Education in the First State: Positioned to Lead.” President-Elect Susan Brown presented on the American Federation of Teachers’ webinar “Conversation about the Common Core State Standards.”
  • Met with state policymakers to raise the parent voice. In April of 2012, Delaware PTA hosted its annual Day of Advocacy at the Statehouse in Dover. In addition to meetings with Attorney General Beau Biden, Governor Jack Markell, Lt. Governor Matthew Denn and state legislators, Delaware’s 145th General Assembly recognized Delaware PTA on its outstanding work on the Common Core with a resolution in both the House and Senate.

When it comes to improving student achievement and ensuring all students are college and career ready, no one is more concerned than parents and families. As changes in education are a reality and necessity, so is the role of stakeholders who understand both the value and the power of the parent voice.

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