Thursday, April 18, 2013

Public Agenda Alert -- April 18, 2013

Public Agenda
Public Agenda Alert -- April 18, 2013
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New Report
Gun Control and Compromise
Engaging Ideas
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How to Improve Parent Involvement in Education

Those of us in the K-12 education arena puzzle over parent involvement a lot. Our new report helps education leaders, reformers and policymakers take a step back, examine what parents themselves have to say about the issue, and determine how education leaders can best tailor their approaches to meet the concerns and capacities of parents.

"Ready, Willing and Able? Kansas City Parents Talk About How to Improve Schools and What They Can Do to Help," is based on a survey and focus groups with parents in the Kansas City region and has implications for education leaders nationwide. It provides a view of parents' diverse feelings on their involvement in schools and gives education leaders practical advice for boosting parental involvement and engaging more parents in broader questions about education reform.
Parents have  different definitions of parent involvement,  different concerns when it comes to improving education for their children, and different interests regarding the types of school improvement activities they'd be comfortable doing. The report categorizes these differences into three distinct groups of parents. The Potential Transformers are comfortable shaping education policy. School Helpers prefer more traditional activities. And Help Seekers need support to improve their involvement at home.
School leaders should focus on parents' distinct priorities, concerns and strengths if they want to engage more parents in school improvement.

To help them do so, we provide a series of practical recommendations, based on the research and our deep expertise in stakeholder engagement in K-12 education.

Help education leaders improve parental involvement and engage more parents in school improvement by getting the word out about this resource.

You can download a PDF of the report from our website, share the charts and graphs from the report, and join the conversation on Twitter with the hastag #ReadyWillingAble. Feel free to use the tweets below or craft your own!

School leaders: want to boost #ParentInvolvement? Tailor your approach w/these recommendations. #ReadyWillingAble 

What does #ParentInvolvement in #education look like? Depends what parents you ask. #ReadyWillingAble 

31% of #parents seem ready to advocate for #edreform, not doing it yet #edchat #ReadyWillingAble 

#ParentInvolvement at home vs in schools: What helps improve education more? Parents are divided. #ReadyWillingAble 

Parents have different comfort levels when it comes to #ParentInvolvement activities #ReadyWillingAble 

Best way to leverage #parents interest in improving #education: vary opportunities for involvement #ReadyWillingAble  

Parents: an untapped resource in #edreform. Over half say they could be more involved in schools #ReadyWillingAble  
Gun Control, Public Opinion and Compromise   
From Public Agenda's President, Will Friedman:

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column for the Huffington Post challenging our national leaders to forgo excuses and pursue compromise as a means to make progress on urgent issues.
Yesterday, the Senate voted down a gun control bill strongly supported by the public. On this issue, our leaders have failed to take even modest measures aimed at controlling gun violence, defying the public's judgment that beefed-up background checks are worth trying.

Valid arguments certainly remain on both sides of the issue, and most of those who are uneasy about restricting gun access cannot and should not be reduced to a pawn of extremists. But that doesn't mean we can sit back and try nothing, especially when the public overwhelming supports reasonable measures that might improve the safety of our children and communities.

Here's a link to my statement on the Huffington Post. It still pertains, I think, to the critical questions on immigration and the budget that are on the policy agenda. We hope leaders will not continue to ignore the public's voice. And if they do, we hope the public will stop standing for it.
Engaging Ideas  

Earlier this month, Bill Gates wrote an opinion on teacher evaluation which warned that hastily chosen measures, including a focus on student test scores, could impede the larger efforts to improve teacher reviews.

Americans are still divided on whether the U.S. should prioritize energy production (46%) or environmental protection (45%) according to a Gallup poll.

New York Times columnist David Brooks  again pines over uses and limits of Big Data in problem solving.

CEOs for Cities is calling for submissions for its Civic Data Challenge, which invites participants to turn raw data about civic health into useful applications and visualizations that have direct impact on public decision-making.

The MBTA, better known as the 'T', is also looking for submissions of ideas to re-design Boston's transit map.

Many of us at Public Agenda have personal connections to Boston. Some of us grew up or went to school there. Some of us have children who live there or went to school there. Some of us are die-hard Boston sports fans. Some of us rag on those fans. All of us join in mourning for Monday's tragic events. We are grateful for everyday heroes, big and small, and our hearts go out to those personally touched by the bombings. We leave you one of our favorite responses to the tragedy: "Messing With the Wrong City."
About Us
Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate complex, divisive issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local budgets, energy and immigration. Find Public Agenda online at

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