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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Parents! Edutopia would like your feedback on edutopia.org!

Parents! Edutopia would like your feedback on edutopia.org!

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Parents! Edutopia would love your feedback on Edutopia.org. Below, you'll find some questions that will help us make edutopia.org not only a resource for educators but also parents passionate about change in education. Thanks in advance! Questions: :: When you are on the homepage of the Edutopia.org site, what is the first thing that catches your eye? What is the first thing you want to click on? :: What are three reasons a parent might come to the Edutopia.org site? :: What new content might Edutopia.org add to the site for parents? What feature or features would encourage a parent to come back on a regular basis? :: What resources could Edutopia.org offer to parents to help them make schools better? :: What information currently on the site is of most interest to you as a parent? :: If Edutopia.org were to add the following content areas, do you think parents would be interested in them: 1) A “What’s Happening in Education” section where each week Edutopia.org staff would gather together interesting content from around the web on education trends and examples of innovations at schools around the country. 2) An advice column that parents could write into to ask questions about education and to get strategies and tips for improving education in their kids’ schools. 3) A version of the “Schools that Work” section that is focused on parents; it could be titled “Parent Success Stories”

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Maura Lincoln's picture

This is an amazing site! I check it and use it almost everyday. I think providing parents with a site they can TRUST to give an HONEST and thorough answer would be very beneficial. A site that could give BOTH SIDES of a teaching strategy or learning situation... could advance our efforts to get everyone on the same page in making America's youth as successful as we know they can be...I think if both educators and parents can remain positive and open....the results would be AWESOME for all involved ...

PtaPeep's picture
PtaPeep
Parent of 3 (middle, elementary, pre-k), PTA District Pres, Louisville KY

First, thank you Edutopia for asking parents to give an opinion on how to make this website more relevant to us as we (as parents) are literally the front lines of education.

The competition out there for our attention and support is tough. Parenting magazine, Parents magazine, Nick Jr., Facebook, local media blogs/forum (Momslikeme), PTA, PTO Today, All Pro Dad, iMom, EdWeek Update, NEA Education Insider, the NYT, the Washington Post, Education Nation, the afore mentioned Waiting for Superman, whew, I'm tired just listing them! Everyday my email in box is inundated with the lure of information on a site and the promise that I might win a new "whatever" when I login. Most of my friends use me as a resource, following my posts on Mom Congress (Parenting magazine online) or other the links I put on my facebook page (yes, some right here to Edutopia), but most are truly just trying to navigate the day and schedule time for the family to attend the fall festival.

With so much information out there a parent can feel overwhelmed, especially when every blog and forum is telling us to see "Waiting for Superman" in order to be part of the movement to transform public education. I have been part of the movement for the last seven years and I (and many others I know) are a wee bit put off that somehow a film, no matter how poignent, will inspire us to do more than we do now. Futhermore, all these blogs, forums and websites fail to address the key stakeholder(s) in public education: the parent (and consequently their children, the students). While I have spent the last seven years learning about NCLB, AYP, SEL (hats off to Edutopia for the discussion which focused on Louisville schools), ILP, ECE, etc. and can analyze data and discourse with school board members and media, I am also a mom, trying to help a seventh grader with math, a fourth grader with a reading project and a pre-schooler with spelling. Parents feel disconnected from education because they have been absent from the conversation for far too long. Look at all the recent reviews of Waiting for Superman...they focus on what the school administration has done or failed to do, what teachers have done or failed to do, but not one mentions PARENTS. We are often asked to support educational initiatives that impact the daily learning experience our children participate in, but not asked if we think it is effective, or if we wish to offer an opinion.

I like the parent success stories idea, but I fear it could turn into a "we met resistance and plowed ahead anyway" rather than what is really needed in education: collaboration, creativity, cooperation, and commitment. My successes in the PTA or at my son's schools are not mine alone, I am always part of a team, whether a team of parents, a team of parents and teachers, parents, teachers, students, etc. I am not Superman, or Batman (I think that implies solitude and secrecy rather than team effort).

A what's happening in education can be, well, overwhelming and intimidating. I recently viewed the documentary "Lunch Line" and there was a great example of a parent group in CA who decided to transform the school lunch program, got a grant, and grew organic vegetables in the school garden. Managed to feed the students for a year. Wow! How exciting! But the truth is what works in CA and is grant driven, may not work in Alabama, Montana, etc. because the funding may not be available. Grants are limited in scope, length, funds, etc. Furthermore, while there are federal guidelines to the school lunch program, so are there State and local as well. What may be feasible in CA may just not be somewhere else. And so the thinking can become how I am now a failure as a parent because I cannot provide organic vegetables to my children during the school lunch, instead of what may have been intended as an inspirational "a-ha" moment. As a parent I enjoy learning about innovative programs, I find I am often overwhelmed by all the options out there but really just need to know what is happening in my State or District as it applies to education.

I certainly like the advice column idea, but who would your parent "expert" be. Since I am a PTA member, I'd suggest a PTA leader. However another parent might disagree and prefer another person. If it were a blog/forum where other parents could contribute their advice to a question, it might be difficult to moderate and monitor (sadly, parents/adults are just as guilty of online bullying behavior as children these days, especially since everything can be anonymous). Far too often parent to parent advice can spiral into criticism and judgment.

I often go to the section Browse by Grade Level, that way I'm a bit more atuned to what my children should be learning, but it is definitely educator to educator focused in delivery of information and content.

At the end of the day, I just want to know that I did my very best in parenting, and if I didn't that tomorrow I'll get another opportunity to do better. If you can help me feel that today was a success, and that the information you provided will help me make tomorrow even better, I'll consider that time on your site well spent.

Thanks for listening!

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