Twenty-nine percent of employees in the U.S. are now offered this option. Employers often mandate core hours in which employees must work, such as 10 a.m.-3 p.m., but give workers flexibility to determine which early morning or late afternoon hours they will work. This provides them with greater opportunities to visit schools. If the business needs its employees most in the early morning or late afternoon, a "lunchtime" flex program may be a good alternative. Some employers may choose to offer flexible days-off schedules to meet the needs of parents or other family members, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, or any caring adult who has the responsibility for raising a child.
Studies indicate that many parents would prefer to forego full-time income for a part-time job that would allow them to spend more time with their children. Some employers have discovered that job- sharing or part-time arrangements reduce burnout and job dissatisfaction.
Special lunchtime seminars can address parenting issues and also provide information for grandparents, many of whom are either directly involved in raising their grandchildren or make a contribution to their grandchildren's education. On-site libraries can provide books and videos on parental involvement, and business can also offer employees literacy training.
Provide on- or near-site child care centers or support centers in the community. More than 55 percent of large companies take advantage of a federal law that provides for Dependent Care Assistance Plans, which allows employees to set aside up to $5,000 of their pre-tax salaries for child care.
When students apply for after-school, part-time, or summer jobs, ask to see their school transcripts. That will help you make a good hiring decision and send students the message that working hard in school brings reward in the work world. Also, encourage students to develop their job skills as much as possible by taking the tougher courses in school.
The School-to-Work Opportunities Act and similar state programs encourage employers to team up with parents and schools to help students learn job skills and perform well at work. Businesses are now working with high schools to create internship and apprenticeship program. Many schools are also developing industry skill standards that will help employers identify workers who have the skills needed to work in their companies. For more information call the School-to-Work Opportunities Information Center at (202) 260-7278.
Many schools all across America are working hard to improve themselves, and businesses are joining with parents to play a leading role in this effort. These schools are changing in the way a business might change to improve its performance: They're insisting on higher standards, demanding accountability, rewarding good performance, and giving their "workers" -- teachers and principals -- flexibility and tools to get the job done right. Join with others in your community to help schools make these needed improvements. The support of the business community is often crucial to making these efforts a success.
Raising Academic Standards: How Businesses Can Help
In addition to encouraging greater family involvement, businesses can improve education by helping to develop challenging academic standards for students. Raising standards is supported by the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. Goals 2000 encourages businesses to join with schools, parents, and others in the community to develop standards that will challenge young people to realize their full potential and become responsible, productive citizens.
At John Hancock Financial Services, employees have a "flextime" option -- they can tailor their work hours to fit their family schedules. This makes it easier for them to get their children ready for school in the morning and to be at home when children return. At IBM, workers can visit their children in school at lunchtime. DuPont and NationsBank offer workers part-time schedules or job- sharing arrangements for the same purpose. And Fel-Pro, an automotive manufacturer in Skokie, Ill., operates an on-site kindergarten program and offers a college scholarship program. Other employers are providing family resource hotlines that employees can call to get information on education-related issues. These are just some of the ways that businesses -- small, medium, and large -- are becoming "family-friendly" and supporting family involvement in education. They've discovered these practices are good for their employees and good for their businesses.
Three decades of research show that parental involvement really works to make education better. When families get involved, children get better grades, graduate from high school and go on to higher education more frequently, and have more positive attitudes and behavior. For businesses, the benefits of family involvement in education are also great -- and go right to the bottom line:
Family involvement in education can mean many different kinds of activities for parents and other family members. It can mean volunteering to tutor students to reach high standards. It may mean serving as a mentor to help students learn job skills. It can mean regular visits with teachers and principals to review children's progress. And it may involve joining a committee that develops a school improvement plan to reach the National Education Goals.
Business people have long recognized the importance of these activities; a recent poll showed that 70% believe that encouraging parental involvement is the most effective way to improve education. To read about the ways your business can support family involvement in education, just turn the page.
"The support of business is
crucial to improving education in
America. When business gets
involved, schools get better and
our nation's prosperity is insured."
-- Richard W. Riley
U.S. Secretary of Education
Greater family involvement in education is supported by the Family Involvement Partnership for Learning, which includes over 100 business, family, education, community, and religious organizations nationwide.
Your business is cordially invited to join the Family Involvement Partnership. For information, call one of the partners, the U.S. Department of Education, at 1-800-USA-LEARN. Or write to:
Family Involvement Partnership for Learning
600 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-8173
When you write, be sure to include your name, title, company, and address. We'll send you helpful material, including a copy of Employers, Families, and Education, a guide which describes successful family-friendly practices. Also, tell us if you'd like your business to be a local site for one of our national satellite town meetings that bring together Americans to discuss ways to improve our schools.
Last Update: 10/4/98
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