Program engages, educates parents to be leaders in boosting student achievement

FRANKFORT Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear today announced an important initiative to engage and educate parents to be strong and effective leaders in Kentucky schools.

The Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership (GCIPL) will be an independent nonprofit organization, building on the 16-year record of the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, developed by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. The Institute’s mission is preparing parents to take leadership roles in parent-teacher organizations, school councils and committees, local school boards and in other roles that can positively influence student achievement.

“We know how important it is to invest in education for the future of Kentucky, and we can’t overlook parents as a critical resource,” Gov. Beshear said. “Engaging families in improving schools has benefits that extend far beyond the students whose parents participate in the training. We have parents in our communities who want to help our schools and our students achieve excellence. The Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership will help them do that.”

The Institute teaches and mentors parents over a 24-month period to understand what Institute leaders call “the business of education” – such as how to read aggregated test scores to understand trends, then recommend steps to help struggling students based on that data. The Institute unlocks educational jargon and technical language so that teachers, administrators and parents can speak with a common understanding of tools and goals. Parents will also learn to understand how a school’s budget works and how to maximize resources. The goal is to train parents specifically in partnering with educators and administrators to enhance student achievement. Institute administrators estimate that every CIPL graduate mentors another 20 parents, which exponentially enhances the program’s impact on Kentucky students.

The existing Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership (CIPL), which has garnered national attention and served as a model for other states, has engaged about 1,600 Kentucky parents, teaching them how to have a positive impact on student achievement. Many have gone on to serve in key leadership positions: At least 750 have served on local site-based councils, 47 have served on local school boards and two have served on the state Board of Education.

“Begun in 1997, the impact of CIPL fellows, parent leaders with information, skills, and data that prepares them to partner with schools to improve student achievement, is being felt across the state,” said Bev Raimondo, Director, Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership. “We are excited that Gov. Beshear sees this and is supporting it by making CIPL the Governor's Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership.”

“In this era of high quality reform taking place in our nation, it is more important now than ever to have parent leaders deeply involved with our schools,” said Stu Silberman, Executive Director, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. “The Governor's Institute will be a gold standard for this leadership training for our parents. Once again, Kentucky steps up and takes the lead.”

In its most recent sessions, the Institute this past year held three regional classes for parents – in Hazard, Florence and Henderson. Those parents then share their knowledge with others, as peers and mentors.

“My participation in the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership has refined me as a person, a parent and a citizen. I am so proud of the achievements, the successes and the advocacy opportunities I’ve been given because of confidence gained while educating myself and others,” said Teresa Dawes, a parent and 2001 participant in the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership. “Being an advocate for change is true empowerment. GCIPL’s support will reinforce the mission of the Prichard Committee by providing a public voice advocating for continually improved education for all Kentuckians. CIPL fellows past, present and future welcome the collaboration with open arms.”

Today’s announcement extends the reach of the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, taking the program statewide and formally recognizing its efforts. The program will remain a private, independent, nonprofit corporation funded by donations. While it is not a state agency, the new name demonstrates the Governor’s commitment to the program. Since there is no state funding available, the program is seeking private support from individuals, corporations and foundations.

Also today, University of Pikeville President Paul Patton and Morehead State University President Wayne Andrews announced a collaboration that will conduct the first Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership session, to be held in eastern Kentucky next fall.

“Morehead State University is exceedingly pleased to partner with the University of Pikeville in support of the Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership,” President Andrews said. “We understand the significance of parents being involved in their children’s education. This unique initiative engages parents at the grassroots level in improving academic achievement for all students in East Kentucky schools and will prepare parents to become strong partners with their school districts in the education of our young people.”

The new program’s goal is to fund and schedule at least two more institutes in 2013, and eventually offer five to six per year throughout Kentucky. Each program is three sets of two-day sessions, with follow-up coaching. For more information or to become involved in the Institute for Parent Leadership, visit www.kygovcipl.org.




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