SB 261 On the Establishment of a Parents Bill of Rights
Last month, Delaware Senate Bill #261 was introduced by Senator Dave Sokola and co-sponsored by Representative Terry Schooley. It has since been passed in the senate and will soon be voted on in the house. This bill would require that schools seek signatures from each parent at the beginning of each school year on a parent/school to be prepared by the Department of Education and parent organizations.
This compact would both identify the responsibilities of parents as well as the commitment of the public schools to actively collaborate in promoting student success. So what will this agreement look like and how can Delaware learn from national best practice?
One example Delaware can learn from is New York City’s Parents Bill of Rights which lays out the families’ rights to:
- Free, safe, and supportive education,
- Access to information
- Parents to be involved in school matters
- File complaints.
And parents’ have responsibilities to
- Support their student’s education
- Take part in the community and local school district.
Beyond the Bake Sale—a defining book on parent engagement–outlines a three-part process to engaging parents, which should be considered in this effort:
- Welcoming parents to the school
- Honoring their participation, and
- Connecting parents through a focus on the children and their learning.
The compact should reflect these principles by not only expressing that parents have rights, but also encouraging parents to be a part of a partnership. This agreement must not turn into a burden for the schools. Rather, it should be a way for schools to reach out to the families of the students they impact to encourage collaboration between the two parties and the community as a whole. This should be just one part of a greater strategy to build a partnership school that engages, encourages, and empowers parents to be involved in their students’ education.
The importance the duality that exists in education cannot be overstated: the school has responsibilities to the people whom it is tasked with educating for the sake of the community and families have the responsibility of seeing to it that their student is ready and mentally and physically equipped to learn. In times of economic struggle such as the present, the greatest long term strategy for economic revitalization of our communities is empowering our children to learn and to grow socially. This can only be done when schools and families work together.