The Importance of School and Parent Partnerships

By Naomi Dillon

Everyone  cautioned Karen Bostian against expecting too much, too soon. It seemed like sound advice.

After all, Cedar Grove Elementary in suburban Nashville, Tenn., had just been through a major shake-up. Rampant growth had forced district officials to rezone the area in 2006. The shift helped alleviate the school’s crowded conditions, but it also scattered an army of parent volunteers.

More than 80 percent of the regulars -- mostly stay-at-home moms -- were reassigned to other sites. And Cedar Grove, once an enclave of white, middle-class families, suddenly became a designated Title I school with more than 1,000 students. About the only thing constant was Bostian, the lone returning PTO officer and a mother of three.

“I just knew when we lost all those people, we really had to get out and do something different,” she says.

Despite a lingering national perception that schools are rigid, they have become pretty adept at adapting to change. As a whole, though, schools are struggling to connect with the one group that has the biggest impact on a student’s academic career: parents.

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