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Lawmakers Pass Measure Encouraging Parental Involvement in Education

by Alex Harris on April 9, 2012

Churches and nonprofits would have an easier time setting up parenting classes for school districts under a bill that passed the Senate Monday 30-0.

The bill, SB3606, encourages school districts to develop and provide these programs for parents by partnering with a range of organizations, such as nonprofit and for-profit groups and community and faith-based organizations.

“This would encourage the (school districts) to develop low-cost, or no-cost, parenting classes with community organizations,” said Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville, describing the bill to the Senate Education Committee on March 28. “It would authorize (them) to solicit private donations to fund parental involvement reward programs.”

Schools with a high percentage of parents attending the classes would be rewarded with supplies, field trips, or other prizes. Districts could design the programs with rewards for classes as well.

The bill would also direct schools to encourage parents who attend classes to be role models for parents who don’t attend the classes, or those whose children have yet to enter school, Haynes said.

The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously.

Some examples of topics provided by the bill that parental involvement classes might address are ways to be a positive role model, the importance of sleep and good nutrition, good study and homework habits, how to maximize parent-teacher conferences and how to prepare students for college or the workforce.

“I think that’s why we’re actively engaged in programs– it’s the thing my wife’s focused on the most — of how do we encourage parents to get involved?” Gov. Bill Haslam said at a hunger awareness event in Nashville Monday. “Because, if you compare test scores, the biggest differential between schools, you can almost trace the parental involvement.”

The bill passed the House 98-0 on March 19. The bill goes next to the governor for his approval.

The bill is not expected to cost state taxpayers, according to legislative research. Lawmakers envision the outside groups will pick up the tab.

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