Parents are working longer hours today than in past decades, making it even more difficult to maintain a healthy balance between work and family activities.
A balance between work and family creates more opportunities for parents to participate in their children’s educational experience, which improves student performance.
That’s why CEA asked the legislature’s Committee on Children to introduce HB 6501 An Act Creating Parental Engagement. The bill would allow parents, guardians, or grandparents having custody of school-age children to take up to 20 hours of earned time for parental leave annually from their employment to attend qualified school-related activities involving their children.
CEA President Sheila Cohen told the Committee today that this bill would address the struggle for time that most parents face when work obligations conflict with the educational needs of their children.
“The participation of parents in all activities of the school community sends a strong message to children that school is important and part of the family culture,” said Cohen. “The more parents are involved in their children’s education, the higher the children’s academic achievement.”
Cohen pointed to numerous reports that show when schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children do better in school.
Studies show that children whose parents are involved in their education are more likely to:
- Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs
- Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits
- Attend school regularly
- Have better social skills
- Show improved behavior and adapt well to school
- Graduate and go on to post-secondary education
Wendy Lecker, a Stamford parent with Parents Across America, supports the bill. In written testimony she said many parents can’t get the time off from work to fully engage in their children’s education.
“Greater parental involvement is key to ensuring children take full advantage of the benefits of public education,” said Lecker. “Promoting full participation by parents not only benefits the individual child, but helps to strengthen the entire family, school, and community.”
Increasing parents’ involvement in their children’s education is a key component of education reform efforts.
The Connecticut legislature considers volunteering in school to be so important that there are state statutes encouraging community members to take an active role in improving schools and becoming school volunteers, says Marne Usher, Vice President of Government Relations for the Connecticut Parent Teacher Student Association (CT PTSA).
The PTSA, the largest and oldest volunteer child advocacy association in the state with nearly 50,000 members statewide, supports the bill.
“Early childhood education programs that have demonstrated significant short- and long-term benefits for children all have intensive family involvement components,” said Usher. “Communicating with teachers and school administrators is also a crucial element of parental involvement.”
Twelve states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, currently provide parental leave for school-related activities.