June 1, 2011
Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard met with parents today to launch the first in a series of discussions about developing parent-teacher agreements that will be adopted by schools in the 2011-2012 school year. Highlighted as a key priority in Mayor Emanuel’s education transition recommendations, these agreements are designed to both empower parents and engage them more fully with teachers and schools by outlining clear expectations on how they will help their child succeed outside the classroom.
Today’s meeting is part of Brizard’s citywide listening tour aimed at engaging teachers, parents, principals, students, community leaders, faith community and other stakeholders in a dialogue about education issues. Brizard’s first day as CEO was Thursday, May 26. He has started every morning visiting a school and will continue to do so through the end of the school year.
By bringing parents together today, as well as teachers and other parents in additional meetings throughout the summer, Brizard is working to engage them in this process to supplement other best practices already in place locally and nationally that CPS will use to design new parent-teacher agreements.
“We want to help empower parents to build strong relationships with teachers and school staff to help improve their child’s chance of success in the classroom,” Brizard said. “When parents and teachers are working together, students have an even better chance to succeed academically because they have support both at home and at school.”
These agreements, which are prevalent in high-performing charter and independent schools such as the United Neighborhood Organization’s charter schools in Chicago, outline clear expectations for parents on how they should provide extended educational opportunities for their children. They cover issues from how much television children should watch to suggestions for building learning opportunities including reading to children every night.
These agreements would also provide information on how teachers will keep parents informed about their child’s progress – such as providing a school report card especially designed for parents.
“We believe that parent involvement is essential for every school and every child,” said Juan Rangel, chief executive officer of the United Neighborhood Organization, which has successfully implemented such agreements among parents and teachers. “At UNO, our parent-teacher agreements are the starting point for building strong relationships that support our students and directly impact their academic success.”
UNO’s program was cited in the Mayor’s education transition recommendations as one of the models for CPS to draw from in formulating its own such agreements for schools in the system.
Brizard plans to continue his listening tour, visiting a school nearly everyday until the end of the school year and hosting multiple meetings each week with groups of education stakeholders. It affords him the opportunity to learn first hand the challenges that schools face and to identify best practices that can be shared among various schools within the district.
“I look forward to having more opportunities to listen to parents talk about their experiences with our school system,” Brizard said. “In addition to teachers and principals, we want them to be part of the dialogue as we begin to develop and build new strategies for increasing parental involvement in every school to help our kids succeed.”
Chicago Public Schools serves 409,279 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.