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NY Times Op-ed Cites Family Engagement Critical to School Reform

04/26/11

In a New York Times Op-Ed, "The Limits of School Reform" columnist Joe Nocera notes that having the best teachers is just not enough to reform our schools and ensure student success. Families must be a part of the equation that leads to student success. He illustrates this point through a story of a Bronx teenager who dropped out of school, despite a great teacher. Nocera stresses that factors, beyond academics, such as family engagement, affect the academic success for many of our nation’s most vulnerable and at-risk youth. Family engagement is at the core of the community school strategy which is being implemented in thousands of communities.

Nocera writes, "What needs to be acknowledged, however, is that school reform won’t fix everything. Though some poor students will succeed, others will fail. Demonizing teachers for the failures of poor students, and pretending that reforming the schools is all that is needed, as the reformers tend to do, is both misguided and counterproductive." Nocera points to the research of Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute who addresses many factors that lead to chronic absenteeism and student failure, such as frequent illness and the stress of poverty - factors that are beyond the reach, control, and job descriptions of teachers.

Click here to access the Op-ed.

Click here to access the Coalition’s publication, Community & Family Engagement: Principals Share What Works (Amy C. Berg, Atelia Melaville and Martin J. Blank).

Click here to access Tony Bryk’s book, Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, and related webinar, which cite family engagement as one of the 5 Pillars of Transforming Schools.


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