The fifth principle in Failure is Not an Option, is "gaining active engagement from family and community."
Charter schools often have less difficulties with involving parents in their child's education because as a choice school, the parents have made a decision to support the school. Many charter schools have "mandatory" volunteer hours (I've always thought that was an oxymoron) of between 20 to 40 hours per family.
One essential component of involving parents in their child’s education is communication. Parents typically expect more, and better, communication from a charter school than their neighborhood school. Further, charter parents often have higher expectations for their contact with the school. They want access to the principal and they don’t want their child to receive a failing grade without some sort of notification first.
There is also a need to educate parents via the school newsletter or other publications. Parents should be able to learn about what are the key charter school philosophies, how charter schools are funded, why the charter school governing board uses a strategic plan to lead the school, and the role of parental involvement in a charter school. For many parents, their expectations of what it’ll be like to be a part of a charter school is based solely on their neighbor’s former experiences.
Many schools have found some sort of classes for parents to be effective. These may include a night where teachers explain the curriculum to parents or teachers and counselors explain which classes junior high students should take in junior and senior high. Most parents are eager to learn these types of things, especially if the student is their oldest child.
The book says every school should consider questions such as:
· In what capacity are volunteers used at the school?
· What types of outreach activities have been undertaken to recruit community members?
· What forums or meetings have been organized to explain school-related issues and answer families’ questions?