Vouchers... What does that mean for us?
"We really should have started family engagement sooner. The whole State of Tennessee is moving towards a voucher system."
Tuesday morning I received a phone call from a Tennessee school district that was about to move to the voucher system.
Then, that very evening, President Trump's urges Congress to pass a bill providing school choice on a national level.
A voucher system implemented at a national level would mean parents can choose to take their child to the neighborhood school, a charter school, a private school, or another neighborhood school across town.
What happens if a school is full? Or parents have more than one child in grade school? The questions of implementing a program like this start to arise...
The big questions for me about vouchers are:
- How do we retain the students at our school? AND
- How do we attract new students so we have consistent attendance and we are serving our community?
Without consistent, predictable attendance, we could have very interesting fluctuations in ADA (daily attendance funding), staffing needs, and many other unforeseen changes.
Here's a real world example: My granddaughter has been going to a private school this year. I visited her 2nd grade classroom near the beginning of the school year. She wanted to show me everything! I met her teacher, saw her desk, read the book list. You name it, we did it.
I went to visit her school again last week. She had a new teacher and a new classroom. I asked what happened to her first teacher. (I was thinking she was pregnant or some fun thing. No, not the case.)
My granddaughter's school is closing and they combined the two classes of second graders because they've lost so many kids.
The topic of vouchers has really caught my attention!
So back to my (and the man from Tennesee's) question:
- How do we as a school retain the kids we have and possibly attract more?
This is where Family Engagement takes on a new meaning because the market has shifted.
The law has urged schools to engage families via Title I.
Research has shown time and time again that parent and family engagement makes a huge difference in student performance, attendance, and behavior.
It just intuitively makes sense to use a child's first and best teacher (their parents and families) to help us as educators do our job.
Now, I'm not going to just tell you "family engagement is important", I'm going to say: Family Engagement is Imperative.
If parents have choice to go to your school or the one down the road, which will they choose?
You can make sure it's yours.
Imagine a Saturday workshop at your school called Family University. The turn out is huge! Parents and staff from all over your district are invited for speakers, food, activities, workshops, and a chance to connect about what they all care about - learning and kids. There's even child care so parents can enjoy the day while kids do, too.
Family University is a real event and I presented at it this past Saturday in Alief ISD in Houston, TX. Alief has been focusing on family engagement for years, and the parents know they are wanted, valued, and a respected part of the education process for their kids.
Alief isn't a wealthy district. In fact, it's a Title I district with 96 different dialects represented. They do the work of engaging families and they've seen the results.
Have you? Can we help you make sure your school is the only one the parents want? Please let us help you be the parent's only choice!!! (Click here to contact us today)
Click the image to watch the video below about Alief's Path
Committed to your success,
Dr. Joni Samples