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From the Editor

Parents, Prize Winners and More

A review of this issue.

A learning specialist from the Chicago area shared her disappointment with me when all but one parent were “no shows” on open school night last fall. Although it’s more likely that day-to-day involvement such as reading and communicating with one’s child and being aware of his or her study habits make the biggest difference, in “Parental Engagement Pays Off” we sought out district programs that are working to inspire parents and at least get the ball rolling by making that initial home-school connection.

As an example, an outreach activity was planned at a local mosque for the Bengali, Gujarati and Hindi Islamic communities in the North Penn (Pa.) School District, where seventy-one languages are spoken, to help explain school policies and procedures. At Knapp Elementary School participation of parents in conferences with teachers has increased substantially as a result of these engagement efforts. As administrators adopt policies to enhance parental engagement in their schools, familiarizing themselves with the facets of parental involvement that can help raise achievement the most in their districts, perhaps parents will better understand that they are part of the integral piece needed to raise achievement and graduation rates in our schools.

Perhaps parents will better understand that they are part of the integral piece needed to raise achievement and graduation rates in our schools.

For this issue, associate editor Don Parker-Burgard asked Paul Vallas, superintendent, Louisiana Recovery School District, and Rudy Crew, professor of clinical education, Rossier School of Education at USC , and most recently the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, to weigh in on the Detroit Public Schools crisis. Is the Detroit Public Schools a place where $500 million dollars could be spent wisely?

We congratulate Aldine (Texas) Independent School District for being recognized for the fourth time as a finalist for the 2009 Broad Prize. (Will four times be the charm?) “While urban school systems across this country face enormous challenges, Aldine has repeatedly shown us what a successful public school district can accomplish,” said Eli Broad, founder of the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. Out of 61,527 students currently enrolled, nearly 70 percent are at-risk, 84 percent are economically disadvantaged, and 21 percent are English language learners. This month senior editor Angela Pascopella profiles the district’s superintendent, Wanda Bamberg.

And no issue of District Administration is complete without filling you in on the latest technological advances impacting school districts nationwide. “A Call for Collaboration” discusses the advantages that new technology offers to teach students how to learn together. “The Start of a Tech Revolution” fills you in on a trend that will rival the development of the PC in its significance, written by products editor Kurt Dyrli, another member of the solid editorial team we have at DA.

Judy Faust Hartnett, Editor