Leadership Capacity for Lasting School Improvement

By Linda Lambert | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
Parents as Leaders
Talking about parents as leaders is different from discussing parent involvement. The latter term conjures up images of parents volunteering at school, showing interest in their own children, fund raising, and reading the latest newsletter. These are all important activities, but they fall short of true parent leadership, in which parents
Colead with children, teachers, administrators, and other parents with respect to all the students at the school;
Participate in education practices with others in the school community;
Advocate education to other parents, community, and policymakers; and
Assume collective responsibility for the learning of all children.

The educators at Belvedere School surprised even themselves when they observed a shift in their perspectives about parents. Determined to extend to parents the same regard and opportunities for reciprocity that they extend to students and each other, Jennifer and her colleagues sought to reexamine traditional parent roles in their school. During one intense dialogue session, they discussed their current and potential views of parents (see Figure 7.1).

The staff members were keen to revise their approach to parental involvement in part because they were determined to eliminate tracking and remedial programs at Belvedere in favor of integrated, differentiated instruction: they were certain that they would need parent support for such a change, and were startled at the conflicting agendas and strong opinions among parents. The staff members confronted some tough realities. By viewing parents as customers, they had sought to provide them only

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