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PTA’s School Smarts Program Earns White House Hispanic Education Honor

September 17, 2015

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San Diego’s Ninth District PTA Also Recognized for Inclusion Conference

SACRAMENTO — The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics has honored California State PTA’s School Smarts Parent Engagement Program as a 2015 “Bright Spot” in Hispanic education.

LampsonThe White House recognitions highlight the ongoing efforts that are taking place across the country at local, state and federal levels to support Latino educational attainment and excellence. Bright Spots are programs, models, organizations or initiatives that are helping close the achievement gap.

“There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education: programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential,” said White House Initiative Executive Director Alejandra Ceja.

Free to family members, School Smarts includes a campus-wide engagement event and seven-session Parent Academy where parents learn how to help support their children in school, how the school system works and how to work together to advocate for a quality education for all children that includes the arts. The program’s operating principle is one of inclusion: reaching across all parent groups and bringing them together in support of their common interest in helping children succeed.

The School Smarts program is offered in six languages including English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Because of the program’s unique focus on inclusion, it further reflects California’s diversity: Attendee data shows 61 percent Hispanic/Latino, 21 percent White/Caucasian, 13 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, and 5 percent African-American.

During the 2014 – 2015 school year, School Smarts was implemented in nearly 80 schools across 20 school districts. More than 4,500 parents have graduated from the program since its inception as a 2010 – 2011 pilot in four districts, with 3,000 projected to graduate from the program this year. California State PTA developed the unique, research-based program with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The White House also recognized San Diego’s regional Ninth District PTA: The PTA’s Inclusion Conference and diversity efforts – recognized earlier this year by National PTA with a National Jan Domene Harp Diversity & Inclusion Award – were honored as a Bright Spot for bridging the gap between Hispanic families and schools and communities, resulting in a more collective and effective education community.

Parent engagement in schools is more important now than ever before: California’s new Local Control Funding Formula requires school districts to involve parents in planning and decision-making as well as in developing Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs). Many districts are using School Smarts as a tool to strengthen family-school partnerships and increase parents’ involvement as part of their planning efforts.

“Well-informed and engaged parents make a difference for student success from preschool to high school,” said California State PTA President Justine Fischer. “We’re thrilled to be part of the Bright Spot program, and will continue to work for engagement and education for all.”

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