LA Area Parents Seek Ways to Engage With Schools
  • By admin
  • December 3, 2019

By @GraceCShelton

As the new school year began in Los Angeles, the LA Unified School District (LAUSD) was seeking new ways to improve conditions for its many students. According to a recent article by the LA Times, many LAUSD students come from difficult backgrounds. As a result, the district has struggled in the past with things like chronic absenteeism, dropout rates, adequate funding, achievement, and parent involvement. In an effort to improve on each, the District has supported and highlighted numerous schools that find success in each category. 

In recent posts, we’ve discussed how parent engagement can improve student outcomes and foster important parent/teacher relationships that support student success. In this article, a Rancho Palos Verdes school stands out for its passionate parent group. Upon the District’s promise to help parents “navigate an often-frustrating school system bureaucracy”, parents in Rancho Palos Verdes petitioned the district to improve engagement in their neighborhood by eliminating fingerprinting fees. As previously mentioned, many districts across the country require parents to undergo fingerprinting before interacting with students. In LAUSD, parents were required to pay the $56 cost. However, the district has recently agreed to absorb that cost in order to open doors to more parent volunteers. 

At this particular Rancho Palos Verdes school, Dodson Middle School, parents are fiercely determined to engage with students, despite circumstance. While two-thirds of Dodson students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, all eighth-grade students attend grad night at a local theme park thanks to the fundraising efforts of the parent-led booster club. Parents fundraise for extra classes and programs that increase attendance and student motivation, according to the principal, who cites programs like choir and drama. According to the article, parents are told that “parental involvement is vital to the future of education” and have answered the call by going above and beyond expectations. 

Bright spots like these remind us that all parents want to be involved in their children’s education. However, hurdles exist on multiple levels that may prevent families from engaging the way they’d like to. The impact of parents on Dodson’s programming and school culture shows just how valuable engagement can be. In the future, districts across the country can take similar approaches to LAUSD in order to access the potential of their own unique communities.