Getting parents involved in the classroom is the best way to deal with educational problems, the Governor's Black Advisory Council believes. To show they are serious, council members endorsed a proposal seeking funding for the concept through Utah's Job Training Partnership Act program.
Betty Sawyer, director of the Office of Black Affairs, said the grant would fund an incentive program to get parents involved at their local schools. "We want to develop a plan that will attract more black parents into the local school programs."And, if a desired training program is successful, the black community could also reap the benefits of increased employment opportunities.
Sawyer told the council the plan would provide training that could allow some participants to qualify as paid teacher aides. While that is not the intent of the program, she said that is an added incentive that could help attract parents to the effort.
The major goal is to get parents involved in volunteer programs where they can serve as positive role models for the students. She said this would help promote educational ideals among black students.
Under the initial concept, one school district will be picked to pilot the program, Sawyer said. "If it proves successful our intent would be to then move into additional districts as possible until we have all districts in the state involved."
While the proposed program focuses on the black community, Sawyer said it could also be adapted to aid other minority groups if it succeeds.
Offering training programs would help parents overcome their fear of being involved and provide an incentive to get them out of the home and into the schools. Sawyer said this approach would have a positive effect because parents would be involved in all kinds of programs and situations, not just those that have a bad connotation.
Also, the program would provide an opportunity for teachers to get acquainted with the parents and cause the teachers to expect and welcome parental involvement.
Another potential outgrowth of the effort would be to get the parents involved in helping provide equipment and other needs at the schools. This would involve parents working with local businesses to solicit donations.
As one council member pointed out, the greatest incentive that would come from the program is providing parents with a means to ensure that their students will get what they go to school for - an education.