By Maureen Magee | San Diego Union-Tribune Staff Writer
2:00 a.m. September 17, 2009
SAN DIEGO — When the California PTA asked parents what one thing they would change about schools, the answer included a wish list of art and music education, additional books and an infusion of cash.
All great suggestions. But none are as effective — or affordable — as parent involvement.
So says the PTA in its new public service campaign, launched yesterday at Kearny High School in San Diego.
The statewide effort includes videos that feature parents offering unscripted accounts of volunteering in schools and helping children at home. The PTA plans to air the spots on school district Web sites throughout the state, on YouTube and on television.
Parents, educators and supporters rallied around the campaign yesterday to encourage mothers, fathers and grandparents to take a more active role in the daily education of the children.
The message comes amid tough financial times, when many family members are taking on second jobs, giving them less time to help out at school.
“A lot of parents apologize to me that they don't have time to volunteer or do more at school,” said Patty Blome, an English teacher at San Ysidro High School. “This concerns me . . . parents can do just as much (at home), if not more, than if they were volunteering in my classroom.”
Reading to children at home, helping them organize their backpacks or binders, or simply talking about school and projects can help, PTA officials stressed.
The PTA was built on the foundation that parent involvement is crucial to a child's education. The concept is also supported by research that shows a link between parent involvement student achievement.
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, a Texas-based research organization, recently issued a report that synthesized research on parent involvement over the past decade.
It found that regardless of family background, students with involved parents are more likely to perform well in classes and on tests, enroll in high-level programs and go on to college.
In addition, these children have improved attendance and better social skills and classroom behavior than children whose parents are less involved in their education, the report found.
The San Diego Unified School District is reaching out to more than just parents to help students. The district wants senior citizens, business leaders, churches and even community-minded teenagers to volunteer in schools.
“There is nothing more important to a child than the individual attention of an adult,” said John Lee Evans, a San Diego school board member who helped launch the PTA campaign and who is driving the district's Year of the School Volunteer effort.
The public service campaign was developed for free by the Pearson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Pearson plc, a media and education company.