"...this system forces administrators to examine the necessity, effectiveness, and efficiency of what they are doing."
"...this is a state requirement without any state funding, thus making the state look supportive."
State and local policies support parent, family, and community involvement. In 1989, the Minnesota Department of Education passed a regulation requiring every school district in the state to spend $5 per pupil on parent/family involvement programs and activities. However, these funds were not in addition to a district's regular per pupil allocation. In order to maintain funding, districts had to show how this money was to be used. Rather than cut the district budget to comply with this mandate, Minneapolis Public Schools documented parent/family involvement activities through a districtwide family involvement survey, provided the salary for the VS/FP Coordinator, and funded school social work paraprofessionals.
Because of district reorganization, many of the parent and community involvement initiatives that have been started are "on hold" as some respondents put it. For example, the recommendations from the Minneapolis School Family Partnership Plan have not been fully implemented; program staff were unsure if the recommendations were viable ways to move forward. In the short term, parent, family, and community involvement efforts appear to be fragmented.
Even though the district has experienced organizational difficulties, there are programs that have remained strong and successful. Directed by the VS/FP Coordinator, the Parent Institute and the Partnership for School Success are programs that directly affect middle grade families. The Parent Institute provides a 28-hour series of workshops to train parent and family members to assume leadership and advocacy roles in schools. The Institute began with a small number of parents, but was designed as a trainer-of-trainers model; parents serve as workshop leaders to involve and train other middle grade parents/families to become advocates for their children. The Partnership for School Success is a federally funded dropout prevention program that operates in three middle schools. A full-time resource teacher coordinates program activities that include sensitivity training for teachers; home visits; and school-based parent/family involvement programs, such as the Parent Worker Program and tutoring/mentoring programs. The Partnership for School Success has worked with The League of Schools Reaching Out to form Action Research Teams that identify and work on areas for improvement.
The administrative performance-based contract sets up a system of competition between restructuring initiatives. If school sites do not choose to "buy" program services, program funding may be discontinued.
The mandate for parent and family involvement from the state Department of Education does not provide additional funding to districts to implement family partnership programs.
As parents and family members assume new roles and responsibilities, especially those that involve decision making, training is a necessary component to ensure success.
School administrators have traditionally operated under a model of autonomous decision making. Including parents and community members in the decision making process may be perceived as a threat to autonomy and the locus of control in schools.