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Parents will get a bigger say on what’s happening inside their children’s classrooms with new national council

The U.S. Department of Education has launched what it’s calling the ‘National Parents and Families Engagement Council.’
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 1:51 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - As debate continues nationwide over school safety and the COVID-19 recovery, the U.S. Department of Education is seeking to give parents a bigger voice in the decisions being made for their children inside the classroom.

Secretary Miguel Cardona has announced the creation of what the department is calling the National Parents and Families Engagement Council. Its goal is to combine a diverse group of parents, families and caregivers to discuss policies that will impact public, private, charter, and home schools.

“Look, things have changed. Things are changing a lot. And we need to make sure that our schools are evolving to meet the needs of our communities. And who better than our parents?” said Cardona.

The members of the council will include representatives from national organizations that can work with communities to identify solutions at the local level.

“We know parents have been instrumental partners in education. And during the pandemic, we saw even more of that. And we feel like, you know, we tell districts to reimagine how they reopen schools and how they engage stakeholders differently,” said Cardona. “We want to model the same. So, this group will help us hear from parents from all over the country. They’re going to serve in an advisory capacity, bringing in the perspective, the diverse perspectives of families as families recover from the pandemic and really hopefully set a higher bar for what our education system can provide for their children.”

The department said the council will be used to gather input on policies, funding, enrichment opportunities, summer learning, and school safety. It will also be used, the department said, to educate parents on the rights they have and create a ‘feedback loop’ to shape how American Rescue Plan dollars are spent.

“As a father, nothing is more important than my child safety. So that’s one of the topics that we want to hear from parents what they want to see, what they think is working and what areas need attention so that we can address it nationwide,” said Cardona.

Among the organizations partnering with the Department for the council are Fathers Incorporated, Generations United, Girls, Inc., League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mocha Moms, National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE), National Action Network, National Military Family Association (NMFA), National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), National Parents Union (NPU), The National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (PLACE), United Parent Leaders Action Network (UPLAN), and UnidosUS.

“The folks that are coming to the table have a track record also of having tentacles to reach out to to parents in their communities, right? So we do want their voices, but we also want them to serve as an avenue through which other parent voices can be heard as well,” said Cardona.

The council plans to meet in the coming weeks. It will then hold local listening sessions for the public.

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