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School-Family Partnerships




Based on current headlines and news reports, one may believe that there is a serious rift between parents and public schools.



This is a false narrative based on the somewhat hysterical claims of parents involved with Political Action Committees ( PACs).


Several points are worth considering.









School Boards act in open and deliberate ways as they consider the opinions and wishes of the diverse group of people they represent.

School boards are elected officials who must consider the opinions and wishes of a diverse group of people. Some politically motivated groups request certain policy changes that do not reflect the broad range of students and parents affected. The fact that a board does not accede to a particular request is not evidence of a rift between schools and parents. Boards must act in open and deliberative ways and cannot and should not rubber stamp every idea that is proposed. This is the way representative government bodies work.


 

Teachers, administrators, and school board members are generally collaborative in their approach to issues and problems. Parents and community members are productively involved in our public schools in various ways:

  • Parent-teacher conferences allow for presentation, discussion, and clarification of course goals and methods. Schools put forth extraordinary efforts to increase family attendance and participation in conferences.

  • Back-to-School nights provide families with the opportunity to see and hear what teachers are doing subject-by-subject.

  • All Utah schools have elected community councils, which require a number of parents with students currently in the school, to help guide their decisions and programs.

  • Every student who requires special education services or 504 accommodations must have an IEP (individual education plan) agreed to by all parties, including parents.

  • Parent volunteers are legion in number. Some school programs could not be accomplished without such volunteers. The impact of parents in Utah schools is enormous.

  • Every Utah School gets a check each year from SITLA ( State Institutional Trust Lands Administration ). The use of these funds is governed by a committee that includes more parents than school personnel.

  • All curriculum materials are approved by committees that include parents. Not every curriculum item is approved unanimously, but the process is collaborative and open.

  • Teachers maintain office hours, (normally without an office) and reserve time to meet with students and parents on any matter of concern.


 

Much of the "conflict" between parents and public education prevalent on social media is the thinly veiled promotion of a political point of view and agenda that is requested by a Political Action Group (PAC), many of which are headquartered outside the state of Utah.

Analysis of the complaint against schools and teachers illuminates not a lack of collaboration or open processes. Rather, the issue is really one of forcing on public schools a political point of view and agenda that is requested by a political action group. Such groups may request that discussions about race, equality, and inclusion be subject to their examination and approval or not taught at all. Others believe that any discussion about gender and LGBTQ issues are off-limits. Such issues should be discussed and resolved in open and collaborative ways. Schools exist to serve all students and parents, even students who do not meet the approval or standards of a political action group.


 

One of the great virtues of public education is that it is open to all students (ALL STUDENTS) and is a mix of ideas, values, and lived experiences - not the property of any particular group. This does not mean that prudence and care are abandoned; rather, schools must honor different points of view and sources of information. This kind of intellectual openness and honesty is what makes us a strong and vibrant nation.