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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Gov. Locke announces family and community involvement plan at Washington State PTA Convention

SEATAC – Gov. Gary Locke today announced his plans to foster greater involvement of families and communities in the education of children. The governor made his remarks at the 89th Washington State PTA Convention held in SeaTac.

Locke’s Family and Community Involvement in Education Initiative is designed to make people across the state aware of the power of the family and the community; provide strategies to Washington citizens for greater involvement in the lives of students; and provide resources to communities.

“Research shows that there is no single factor that has more impact on student performance than the active involvement of a family member,” the governor said. “I will dedicate my efforts, and those of my office, to make increased family and community involvement a statewide priority, and a reality.”

Locke’s Family and Community Involvement in Education Initiative has four basic components that include:
  • A public awareness campaign to make people across the state aware of the incredible power of the family and the community. “Educators, school leaders, families and members of the community – everyone needs to hear this message, because everyone has a role to play,” Locke said. “I will spearhead a statewide public awareness campaign to get this message out.”

  • Providing strategies to get Washingtonians involved in education so that everyone has the ability to participate in ways that are proven to be effective. Locke noted that while there are “wonderful things happening around our state to foster development” that they were only “happening in isolated pockets.” Locke noted the Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge and the Baby Backpacks as options for involvement.

    “To start down that road, I'd like to tell you about the Governor's Summer Reading Challenge that we will launch in just a few short weeks,” the governor said. “In partnership with the Washington State PTA, the Washington Reading Corps, School’s Out Washington, local libraries and literacy organizations around the state, we will be challenging children of all ages to read over the summer for a set number of hours.”

    Relating to the Baby Backpacks, Locke said, “We have learned so much in recent years about brain development in young children. If we want our children to come to school ready to learn, we need to apply that knowledge. Parents should have the information and tools that empower them to fully nurture their sons and daughters. For this reason, we are developing a privately funded program to give to the parents of all newborns in Washington state, some 82,000 each year, a backpack full of interactive tools designed to help parents build pre-literacy skills in their babies.”

  • Providing resources to communities, schools and families so that they can succeed in building interactive engagement. To accomplish this, the governor proposes to deploy VISTA volunteers to school districts and community-based organizations to support efforts to increase family and community involvement in education. He also mentioned plans to create a “best practices” web site.

    “We are seeing impressive efforts to build family and community involvement all around the state,” the governor noted. “To ensure that educators, families and community members have access to the latest information, and the best strategies, we will partner with private and public agencies to build a web site that offers best practices for getting involved - whether you're a single mom in Okanogan, an auto dealer in Vancouver, or a school superintendent in Yakima.”

  • Finding ways to measure the efforts. “We must find way to measure our efforts, so we know our energies are being well spent, and so the people of this state can clearly see the direct connection between family and community involvement and student achievement,” Locke said.

Locke also highlighted other avenues necessary to boost student achievement. He pointed to the need to ensure that future teachers and principals are well trained in the value of, and strategies for, effective family and community involvement. In addition, the governor spoke of building the capacity for translation services, and individualized voice mail for every teacher.

The convention featured a “conference within a conference,” with the theme of Parents Supporting Student Learning. The session talked about opportunities to involve school principals, superintendents and other community leaders for a better understanding of the importance of family involvement.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Terry Bergeson also addressed the convention today. In her remarks, Bergeson spoke about family involvement in the context of education reform. A panel of community, educator, and parent leaders interacted with the participants regarding some barriers to, and possible solutions for, greater parental involvement.

The Washington Congress of Parents and Teachers (the Washington State PTA), a branch of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers (the National PTA), was founded in 1905. The Washington State PTA is a nonprofit, membership association which seeks to bring together the home, school and community on behalf of all children and youth.

The National PTA, founded in 1897, is the nation’s oldest child advocacy organization.
Related Links:
- Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
- Washington State PTA
- AmeriCorps/Vista
- National PTA
- Washington Reading Corps

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