March 29, 2013 – Oklahoma PTA Claims Senate Bill 1001 Does Little To Empower Parents At All, As It Claims To Do
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Anna King, President
2801 N. Lincoln Blvd. Suite 214
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Oklahoma PTA claims Senate Bill 1001 does little to empower parents at all, as it claims to do.
Everything about Senate Bill 1001, including the name, “Parent Empowerment Act” is misleading. It plays to a parent’s instinct to find something better for their child, giving a short-lived sense of control and believing they are taking part in making a change – even if the only part is signing their name on a petition form. That sense of control soon dissolves, as only a select few are put in a position of power at the next stage – and this group retains even less power as time progresses. This bill requires parents to navigate an overly burdensome process when working to improve their child’s school.
“The bill was not drafted by any parent group or associations rooted in Oklahoma, nor were parents asked to be involved prior to its inception. Oklahoma parents deserve to be heard, and a bill that encourages parents to go against the very people we work with on a daily basis to improve our schools and help our vulnerable student populations is neither constructive nor effective”, says Anna King, President of Oklahoma PTA. Parents need to be actively involved in education in Oklahoma, and to do so they need a voice and a seat at the table – and this bill does nothing to encourage or guarantee that voice.
Furthermore, the use of a flawed A-F grading system is preposterous. The concept that we might knowinglyuse such a flawed system to base such a drastic and hostile takeover of a school is counterintuitive. The majority of parents we surveyed don’t even agree with the grade their school was assigned, and more than two-thirds claim it doesn’t change their view of their school or district. In practice, parents know what is or is not needed to make improvements in their school– improvements which can be madetoday through parent involvement at the school and democratically-elected school boards.
“The role of public education is to promote equal access to high-quality education, to set high standards, and ensure accountability for all students,” says Anna King, President of Oklahoma PTA. “By involving parents in decision making processes on all levels and engaging communities, you are empowering parents and building family-school partnerships. This will raise awareness about the power of family and community involvement – cultivate that involvement through specific programs and practices and celebrate success as the schools see increased involvement and its impact.”
Parents want to see support and encouragement at both the school site and district level for parent involvement. Schools and districts should welcome input from the communities they serve and their parents. Research spanning three decades shows that when parents are welcomed into their schools and are actively involved those schools have higher student performance, attendance, and graduation rates.
Encourage parent inclusion now, and avoid a hostile takeover later.