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Maryland Called a Leader in Parental Involvement

Advocates say children do better in school if their parents get involved in their education. (Victoria Jordan)
Advocates say children do better in school if their parents get involved in their education. (Victoria Jordan)
June 13, 2016

BALTIMORE – A group that's been working for more than two decades to get parents more involved in their children's education says Maryland is a leader in the movement.

Project Appleseed is made up of mostly volunteers who try to get parents, grandparents and guardians involved in the classroom.

The group’s president, Kevin Walker, says there's a huge communication gap between schools and parents but Maryland is in the forefront.

"Maryland, Kentucky, Massachusetts, California –– these are all the most progressive states in parental involvement in the country,” he states. “They are aggressive in that state laws have been changed to make sure that parents are engaged, that local laws – like in Baltimore schools – to make sure parents are engaged."

Project Appleseed asks parents and guardians to sign a pledge to volunteer in their child's school and to read to their child for a minimum number of hours per week.

Walker says many parents never have any communication with their child's teacher outside of the parent-teacher conference, and some don't attend those either.

He backs plans to have all schools send texts and emails.

"What parents want is important information from schools sent to them on a regular basis, but they don't want it sent home in the child's backpack or by mail,” he states. “They want it conveniently in email. They want to be able to go online and look at it when it suits their time."

Walker's group also is pushing for legislation to make Internet access available for families. He says some will argue that affordable broadband just allows people to surf the web or watch videos.

"We're worried about when they do use it right,” he says. “Even if they only use the Internet for 20 percent of their time to use it right, that would mean they'd be checking on school, checking on their kids, looking for a job, engaging themselves in the larger community."

Walker wants the federal government to expand the Lifeline program, which was set up by in the '80s to make telephone service affordable. It also would give those below the federal poverty level a subsidy to pay for Internet connection.



Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD