BALTIMORE (August 30, 2005)—Parent involvement in Maryland took a giant step forward today when the State Board of Education voted to accept the final report of the Maryland Parent Advisory Council (M-PAC), “A Shared Responsibility: Recommendations for Increasing Family and Community Involvement in Schools.”
M-PAC’s recommendations should help Maryland, recognized nationally for its statewide education accountability system, lead the nation with the challenging task of increasing parent involvement.
“The title of our report truly reflects our collective belief that together we can make a difference,” said Esther Parker, M-PAC Chair and President of Maryland PTA. “We made this task a collaborative effort, incorporating feedback from other parents, educators, and community members so that we can stop talking about parent involvement and move forward with the task of really involving all parents.”
The acceptance of this report completes the work of M-PAC, which was established in fall 2003 by State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick to recommend how the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) could meet the family-involvement goal and objectives from its strategic plan, Achievement Matters Most. Parent involvement is also a major goal of No Child Left Behind.
The 125-member Council was comprised primarily of parents, setting it apart from any other such efforts, and its work grew from a survey of several thousand Maryland parents, educators, and community members.
“The research has been done,” said Warlene Gary, Chief Executive Officer of National PTA. “We have decades of research that show the importance of parent involvement and its correlation to academic success. The reason that we applaud the work of M-PAC is simply because you are giving the research legs and are willing to run with it.”
M-PAC developed nearly two dozen recommendations falling under the umbrella of communication, partnership, training, leadership, and accountability. These recommendations were then vetted at public forums in each of the state’s 24 local school systems.
“Although M-PAC has completed its task, the Department’s work is, in many ways, just beginning,” said Dr. Grasmick. “This report must not become ‘another dream on the shelf.’ Now the Department must create a plan for implementation of the recommendations.”
A new, smaller advisory group will carry on the work of the original M-PAC by monitoring implementation of the recommendations and gathering and communicating best practices in increasing family and community involvement in schools.
“PTAs around the country are looking at Maryland,” Linda Hodge, Immediate Past President of National PTA, told the State Board. “because you have done something unique: involving parents in the process from start to finish. From having the majority of M-PAC committee members as parents to obtaining input from parents all along the way, you have ensured that you have a clear action plan that is attainable and makes Maryland a model for other state departments of education to emulate.”
Earlier this summer, the creation of M-PAC and its work were lauded by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings at the National PTA Convention.
To review the report, log on to http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/familylit/mpac/.