Kwand Lang, principal at Shaw Middle School in Southwest has become recognized for community meetings and the efforts of the school’s administrators to reach out to the parents of students.
“Here, it depends on the time of the year and the activity,” said Lang about the participation of parents in schools activities. “Normally I have about fifty or sixty percent participation rate during the first and second school marking periods.”
From there, participation goes down significantly, according to Lang.
“I also hold monthly parent round tables where we go over school business, make parents aware of our instructional programs and normally feature one particular web-based intervention, something that the parents can do with their children at home,” he said.
Lang said that during the first intervention, only two parents attended.
He noted for many parents, it is work that prevents them from regularly visiting the school or participating in the activities.
“We really don’t get a large turnout from parents, but I know a lot of people work during the day,” said Lang who also has two children in public school.“A lot of our parents are working during the day and a lot of them are single parents and they can’t afford to take off from work to do particular things.”
To help accommodate parents, Shaw holds meetings at various times to make parent participation more convenient for parents with home and workplace responsibilities.
“Still, even when we switch up, we try to rely on different strategies but still parent participation on things that are not directly related to their kids is really, really difficult at Shaw and I think it’s the same thing across the city,” Lang said.
In fact, Lang noted except in cases of mandatory meetings where the parent must visit the school to address concerns about their children, it is still a struggle to get parents engaged.
“Right now we are trying to create a school advisory council and/or a school association, we’re trying from both ends and hopefully we will be able to do something,” he said.