Great Public Schools and the Role Parents Play

by Joyce Powell | Sep 4, 2006
Great Public Schools and the Role Parents Play Research and experience have shown that when parents are involved in their children’s education, student achievement skyrockets. In 2002, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) expanded its commitment to family involvement with the creation of the FAST (Families and Schools Together) Work for Children campaign. FAST is a jointly-sponsored effort of the NJEA, its local affiliates, the Black Ministers’ Council of New Jersey, the Statewide Parents Advocacy Network, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., with additional program support from the NAACP Statewide Education Committee and ASPIRA.

The goal of the FAST program is to encourage families to be involved in their children’s education, to enhance their children’s academic progress, and to feel welcome in public schools. Through the FAST program, NJEA members invite parents to school for free workshops which may include learning about study skills, helping their children with homework, and preparing for parent-teacher conferences.

Additionally, the FAST program offers families opportunities to enjoy outings to the Children’s Discovery Museum, the Liberty Science Center, NJ Performing Arts Center, New Jersey Nets and minor league baseball games at no charge. These extra-curricular outings reinforce what the children learn in school and involve parents at the same time.

NJEA local affiliates have adapted the FAST program to meet the needs of the families they serve. Some locals have used the program to introduce families to social services, medical facilities, and other community resources.

All of NJEA’s family involvement materials have been translated into Spanish, Creole, and several other languages.

Several local associations, including Trenton, Elizabeth, Vineland, Bridgeton, East Orange, and Newark organized “A Day with Dad and Me” to encourage fathers to take an active role in their children’s educations. They collaborated with NJEA, their local school board, places of worship, community groups, NAACP, PTO, and PTA. Students had the opportunity to spend some quality time with their fathers at a fun-filled day of games and special activities. While dads participated in a panel discussion, their children enjoyed a performance by Radio Disney personalities. Families spent the afternoon together rotating among 10 creation stations that focused on family involvement strategies to foster confidence, motivation, effort, responsibility, initiative, perseverance, caring, teamwork, common sense, problem solving skills and a focus on learning.

NJEA is a committed to the idea that when families and teachers work together, our children are the winners. The FAST program is helping to make it easier for parents to participate in their children’s educations.

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Joyce Powell, a special education teacher in Vineland, is the elected President of 196,000 teaching staff, support staff, and retired members of the New Jersey Education Association.

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