Over 30 years of research studies tell us that when parents are engaged in a child’s learning, the child does better in school and the schools get better. The Tennessee State Board of Education committed to ensuring that each school and school district implements a viable family engagement policy and plan by adopting the Six Standards for Family-School Partnerships.

Successful family-school partnerships are usually facilitated by parents who step up and become leaders in their schools and communities. Unfortunately, very few parents are ready to become leaders without some type of encouragement and support. Even those who are leaders can be more effective if they receive some training.

As a state, we are committed to ensuring that all children will become proficient in reading, science, and math over the next 10 years. There is a significant need for leadership and professional development for teachers and administrators in education reform. With the implementation of Common Core State Standards, educators are being trained across the state on all things Common Core. However, for the implementation of Common Core to be successful, parents should also be provided an opportunity to learn more about what Common Core is and what it means for their child.

Frequently, administrators do not know how to engage parents beyond the school-based, day-to-day parent group activities that many times involve either fundraising and/or student performances. Training for parent leadership can offer a shift in parental attitudes towards parent leadership and arouse new interest in parents wanting to take on leadership roles.

Parents need information, support and assistance to play their part in the new accountability system. Investing in parent leaders by sending them to leadership training will help improve schools, strengthen communities, and send children a clear message that their parents expect great things from them. The “Expect More, Achieve More” concept is still valid today.

Several new studies indicate that parent leadership is having an impact on positive education reforms. When parents have the information, skills, and organizational support, they can advocate for upgraded facilities, improved school leadership and staffing, new resources to improve teaching, higher-quality learning programs, funding for after-school programs, and much more.

Schools need well-trained parents. It is difficult for schools to increase achievement and lower the dropout rate by themselves. Now, more than ever, there is a critical need for parents to be powerfully engaged as advocates for improved public education for all children.