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RE: [howardpubliced] Re: changed to - parent volunteerism

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  • cynthia vaillancourt
    Hi Debbie, and welcome. Just to be clear - I agree that there are many volunteers who commit to a schedule and keep it, and there are many activities that are
    Message 1 of 34 , Feb 27, 2013
      Hi Debbie, and welcome.

      Just to be clear - I agree that there are many volunteers who commit to a schedule and keep it, and there are many activities that are very successfully run by volunteers in the schools using these volunteers.  

      I believe the issue that initiated this thread was that instead of encouraging parents and volunteers to take on this kind of project or commitment, some schools actively discourage it - even disallow it ... and sometimes the reason given is "the teacher's union".

      In trying to understand what the objection is to allowing/encouraging volunteer activities might be, I am trying to share information I have gleaned from many sources.  Your kind of "new blood" and "enthusiasm" is crucial for the HCPSS to remain the high performing system it is.  

      Unfortunately, years of experience tells some principals that sometimes these programs are "more trouble than they are worth".   It is a jaded view, certainly, but if we are to overcome the objections, we need to understand where they are coming from.  Take, for example, an after school homework club that promises help to students who stay after school.  The interested students assemble in the cafeteria and are supposed to be paired up with an adult volunteer.  Arrangements have been made beforehand for parents to pick the children up at a specific time.  The buses have gone.  Everything goes smoothly for a while, but then things come up, volunteers drop out, sometimes there are not enough volunteers to monitor the children - let alone help them with their homework.  The more it starts to feel like babysitting, the fewer volunteers are interested in participating.  The program falls apart and the organizer tells the principal they have to cancel the program.   Now the principal is getting calls and complaints.  Parents  are pressuring the principal to make good on the promises of the program.  Parents who have made day care arrangements around the program are furious, and stuck.  That scenario only has to play out one time - even if 50 activities worked out great - to make a principal hesitant to agree to new programs. 

      That is just one example.  I have heard stories of volunteers who confused the students more than helped them.  I have heard of parents who were angry that other parent volunteers said inappropriate things to their child... or about their child... or tried to discipline their child in some way.  All complaints ultimately end up on the principal's desk. 

      There are, of course, more good stories than bad... but the bad ends up undermining the good.

      That is not to say all is lost, or there is no point in trying.  It is to say --- here are some of the pitfalls that need to be avoided.  The A-OK program is very successful, and very structured.  They do ask for significant commitments from their volunteers.  They are a 501(c)(3) organization.  It is run be a very committed core.  It is a model for a successful program.  But it is not a "parent volunteer program". 

      The question seems to be "how can we find a happy medium" between a formal, structured program like A-OK, and a group of well intentioned parents who would like to help their kids' classmates learn how to read after school sometimes?

      cindy v



      To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
      From: evedal06@...
      Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 17:50:14 +0000
      Subject: [howardpubliced] Re: changed to - parent volunteerism

       

      Hi,

      I am new here and have been following this discussion very closely. As a kindergarten parent I've been very disappointed in the extremely limited after school activities offered at my son's school. I am not so concerned about this year but am thinking about the coming years. After school activities have the ability to really enrich a student's life. I still have incredibly fond memories of various clubs and programs that I was involved in as a student.

      As a parent I am more than willing to do my part to help make these opportunities for our children a reality. I do not see that one must be an "employee" to commit to a regular schedule. All of us make regular commitments in just about every area of our life. Why would a commitment to a schedule when volunteering at a school be seen as any less important than every other regularly scheduled activity? Most organizations who rely on volunteers ask those volunteers to commit to a schedule so that their agency runs smoothly. You are always going to come across the exception but I believe most people who volunteer, for whatever they've chosen, take that responsibility seriously. This is not too much to ask or expect.

      I currently volunteer in my son's classroom once a week and know of many other parent's who make regular commitments to their child's class. I would love to be able to facilitate an activity that would not only benefit my son but any interested students. My husband works for an organization which allows the employees 4 hrs a week to come out and work in our schools, the schools just have to ask. They also have an extensive list of talks that the school could request as enrichment for interested students. These are untapped resources just waiting to be called upon.

      I look forward to seeing where this can go and helping out where needed.

      Debbie

      --- In howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com, cynthia vaillancourt wrote:
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      > It is disheartening to hear of instances where eager parents have been discouraged or shooed away by school administrations. I don't get it, and will ask about it. The availability of enriching activities - parent led or otherwise - should not be dependent upon which school your child goes to... whether it is a question of resources, administration personality, or misapplied policies.
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      > There are lots of well staffed volunteer organizations working with our kids. No question about it, we have some great parents, families, community members here in HoCo. I would point out, however, that for every one of the activities you reference, there is someone who has committed to the awesome responsibility to organize, coordinate, administer, monitor, maintain and when necessary staff, the programs.
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      > I think what seems to be being asked for here is for there to be a system wide, organized means of coordinating, organizing, and executing programs where parents and community members can go to a recognized entity to volunteer their services and be matched with programs, clubs or activities in their area of interest and school of choice.
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      > Many good programs only survive as long as the original organizer(s) continue to coordinate them. We need a way to sustain programs that are highly effective beyond individuals' commitments to maintain them.
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      > Many good ideas do not reach their full potential because of difficulties for the organizer to find and maintain a reliable, regular schedule of volunteers.
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      > In spite of the number of parents who are willing to serve --- many of them can only drop in, cannot commit to regular schedules, are unreliable, or get burned out.
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      > I think what I have distilled from these conversations and the conversations I have had with school administrators and volunteer organizers, is that in order to really tap into the volunteer base to execute these extra-curricular and enrichment programs ... we need people who are willing and able to commit to a regular schedule... and that sounds like an "employee" to me.
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      > Thoughts?
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      > cv
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      > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
      > From: theresajones10@...
      > Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 08:17:57 -0800
      > Subject: Re: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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      > Cindy, you may be looking at this from an employment, top down approach. Scouting volunteers have their meetings in school buildings as well as their homes. And in many other districts parents either assist or run programs. Consider robotics. There are parent led groups as well as teacher led groups. One example is that in elementary school, they recruit parents to coach battle of the books teams. If you attend one of the contests you will see that many are parent led teams.
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      > Then there's the "tutoring". In our elementary school, there was an organized tutoring group. One parent recruited other parents and then took referrals from the teachers. But, when I went to the school asking to run a club at school that I had been running out of my home, I was told that I needed to be a nonprofit agency or I needed to get a teacher to run it. I'm sure there are all kinds of terrible things that could happen, but what's missing is trust. It's like the schools are afraid of the parents. It's clear that this is ingrained and unlikely to change. As with anything, we just work around it and do the best we can. But, I think all the children suffer when the teachers ask parents not to schedule parent conferences, when less than half the teachers show up for back to school night where there's no parking due to football practices, and when parents are told they
      > are not wanted as volunteers in the school. I can't help but think if the teachers saw the parents of the higher performing students and worked side by side with them in leading all students toward success, and felt the support of a load lifted by a volunteer, they might WANT to have a parent conference and might WANT to show up for back to school night. They might feel more connected to their schools, the parents might feel more connected, and yes, students would perform better! Well, I think I've said all I can on the subject. So, I'll read but stop arguing my point. Thanks for at least entertaining my concerns.
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      > Take care.
      >
      > From: cynthia vaillancourt
      > To: "howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com" howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com>
      > Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10:28 AM
      > Subject: RE: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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      > I am afraid Bob is right. It is not just the practical issues of clearing people who work in the schools - which, btw, I believe are pretty reasonable - but the need for a commitment of time, schedule and resources necessary to be a consistent help. The kinds of programs being suggested for enrichment type clubs and tutoring do not lend themselves to the "drop in when it is convenient" volunteer availability most of us have.
      > On the other hand, we should not dismiss good ideas just because they may mot ultimately work out as hoped - and nothing happens if nothing happens.
      > cindy v
      >
      > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
      > From: qwertysws@...
      > Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 06:39:02 -0800
      > Subject: Re: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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      > This is NOT an easy sell. Check out issues with volunteers all over the country. People have less time to do this. Plus there are a lot of people who talk the talk and refuse to walk the walk.
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      > Additionally, we cannot just set up a website and turn volunteers loose in the schools. Talk about a safety hazard. If a parent volunteers to teach something, we need to verify they CAN do it, they SHOULD do it - from a safety perspective.
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      > Also, putting a thread on howardcountypubliced is a poor idea. (Sorry guys). Many people have run from this place for reasons that have been stated (and re-stated for that matter). I can tell you that at several parent organizations I have been to people do make jokes about this place. You will not get a new "crop" of volunteers by asking them to come
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      > Last, yahoo groups is on its last legs. There are so many other places that parents are using to set up groups that suggesting yahoo is akin to saying "Want to go to the record store and pick up a couple of 78's?" ;)
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      > Just a few thoughts.
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      > --- On Tue, 2/26/13, pamythompson wrote:
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      > From: pamythompson
      > Subject: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
      > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
      > Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 9:20 PM
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      > This is an easy sell. The parents will buy into it. You need a room to work, a website and just lay it out. This is not that complicated. Just like building a nonprofit business. Start with a dedicted thread on howardpubliced and give it a title, anything, the volunteer project and run with it. Make a list of what you want. Lay out a general idea of this work in progress. Gather resources such as Mrs. Vaillancourt's generous offer which will give you various models. Advertise on the hcpss website and in each school newsletter seeking input and assistance. Just run with it. Perhaps you want to break it up by middle school with their feeder elementary schools in that group. Create a competition for bragging rights for the best ideas and than share them. Get excited and know you can create something the system can not turn away. You folks have a great idea and something when you build it will be a model for other school systems.
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      > jack
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      > --- In howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com, cynthia vaillancourt wrote:
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      > > There are a number of groups who have very a specific focus; recruit, train and organize their volunteers; and have been pretty successful. I will see about linking to some of them in case any folks would like to volunteer with these existing organizations, or use them as a model for additional efforts. We are fortunate in HoCo to have many dedicated volunteers, but can always use more.
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      > > Cindy V
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      > > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
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      > > From: theresajones10@
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      > > Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2013 18:56:16 -0800
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      > > Subject: Re: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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      > > Ann, this is bigger than one staff person's job. It will take a real effort by the people who make and enforce policy. I believe this boils down to the specific administrators at the school and the priority they place on community and parent involvement. There has been plenty of pressure from below. There needs to be priority placed on this from above.
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      > > From: Ann
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      > > To: "howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com"
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      > > howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com>
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      > > Cc: "howardpubliced@yahoogroups.comhowardpubliced@yahoogroups.com>
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      > > Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:01 PM
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      > > Subject: Re: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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      > > Diane Martin is the staff person charged with Family and Community Involvement. Contact her at diane_martin@ Send your questions to her.
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      > > Sent from my iPhone
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      > > On Feb 26, 2013, at 11:25 AM, Theresa Jones wrote:
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      > > So, how do we get it opened up that parents can come into schools and volunteer? If the union wants this and the school board wants this, it should be easy to offer our administrators guidance in how to effectively use parents. In elementary, we had a lot more clubs and a lot more parent involvement.
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      > > At orientation, the principal said that it's time to drop back and let your kids become independent. If parents want to be involved, they should go to the PTA, and from time to time, teachers will ask for help with things like donating Kleenex, field trips, etc. Yet, the teachers tell me they don't have time to grade papers so they don't assign essays. They don't have time to differentiate lesson plans between GT and regular. Things are just not adding up for me, despite what Cindy and
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      > > Paul say. I can't help but think if everyone sees a need and supports parent volunteers, we would have parent volunteers in our middle schools.
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      > > We have no after school robotics, math clubs, science clubs, Shakespeare clubs, in our neck of the woods. We have beading, homework club, chess club, art and volleyball. Parents do not tutor.
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      > > Theresa
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      > > From: yamomanem
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      > > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
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      > > Sent: Monday, February 25, 2013 10:23 PM
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      > > Subject: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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      > > Good evening all,
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      > > Cindy's gut feeling, as usual, is right on target: there is no part of the agreement between HCEA and HCPSS that precludes parent tutors or volunteers of any kind. Indeed, we love the help and know it makes a difference for young people!
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      > > It might be worth noting that it isn't even required that a full-time teacher in HCPSS be a union member. The "shop" isn't "closed," in union parlance--it's open to anyone who can get the job. That's a tall order, these days, as HCPSS has enjoyed thousands of applications for a couple hundred positions in each of the past five years or so.
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      > > HCEA does, as a completely free service, maintain a list of members who tutor, and it is available through the guidance/student services department of every school. Like our Help-A-Child fund (supports
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      > > need by providing supplies, jackets, eyeglasses, etc), we donate our staff time to the project.
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      > > There are a number of school system policies which bear on the matter. Teachers may not tutor their own students for money. Chris correctly notes that certificated personnel (mostly teachers, but certainly we aren't the only staff with certification) are preferred as paid and unpaid coaches/club advisors, etc. I'm not sure exactly who needs fingerprints and background checks, as we do, but if you are to work in a school regularly, you might! There are also training bits (child abuse/neglect, perhaps blood borne pathogens) that may be required of regular visitors/volunteers.
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      > > Paul Lemle, HCEA president
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      > > --- In howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com, cynthia vaillancourt
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      > > > Parents cannot tutor because it is against union rules?
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      > > > Over the years I have heard the teacher's union as the Bogey (boogey) Man for a lot of questionable refusals. If someone can point out the part of the contract where the "no parents as tutors" rule is, please let me know.
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      > > > I would really like to see the "teachers as the enemy" mentality go away. If we are going to accomplish our goals, the teachers have to be brought in as part of the solution --- not looked at as the problem.
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      > > > Cindy V.
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      > > ------------------------------------
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      > > This is the Howard Public Education Mailing List. All original messages posted here are placed in the public domain unless the poster states otherwise. Re-published messages (i.e. newspaper articles) retain their original copyright status.Yahoo! Groups Links
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    • Kerry Ose
      This discussion has been quite complex, and I can t begin to engage it fully. A few piece of information: The National Security Agency has two programs that
      Message 34 of 34 , Feb 28, 2013
        This discussion has been quite complex, and I can't begin to engage it fully.  A few piece of information:  The National Security Agency has two programs that I know of that enable employees to donate work time to schools, for the express purpose of academic support.  The first is the Mathematics Education Partnership Program (MEPP), and it allows NSA employees to support students in STEM subjects.  The second is Partners in Education (PIE), which works the same way, but focuses on support in non-STEM subjects.  

        OMHS PTSA President Carmen Lane and OMHS Principal Frank Eastham developed a partnership with a nonprofit called College Summit that has increased OMHS's capacity to serve students who are not on track for college but could be with some extra support.  I haven't heard a recent update on this partnership, but my understanding is that the pilot year was quite successful.  This is a great example of parent volunteers, school administration, and an outside nonprofit collaborating to meet a pressing need.  

        Aside from this partnership, OMHS PTSA leaders such as Carmen Lane, Mona Curran, and Heather Cindric (as well as others) have embodied the meaningful parent advocacy that PTSA should provide.  Others could learn from them, and from Frank Eastham about his partnership with them.  

        And one thing Ann De Lacy is always reminding me of is that we should be encouraging community members to join PTAs.  This greatly increases the capacity of PTA volunteer programs to succeed and be sustained.

        Finally, the two principals and two Central Office staff who dismissed the idea of volunteers did so in the context of my questions about how we might build the capacity of the Cradlerock K-8 after school/Bridges program. The program was understaffed because Cradlerock teachers did not want to stay for it.  More staff would have meant that more students would have had a meaningful, free, much needed after school program.  It would have meant fewer students going home to empty houses, or to wander the neighborhood with little direction and no supervision.  I believe that community members and parents could have and still could greatly increase the capacity of the Bridges programs at what is now CRES and LEMS.  Guilford Elementary School has had success with such a model.  




        On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 1:08 AM, pamythompson <pamythompson@...> wrote:
         

        The system has nothing like what we are discussing here nor do they have the market cornered on education. Start here, build it, spread a rumor there is a grassroots volunteer program being developed which will revolutionalize our education system. Call for volunteers to contribute. Ask the pta, ask the boosters, ask the hcea, put it on the school websites and talk someone into puting it on the hcpss website. Call patch and ask them to run a series of articles. Go to those "other" parent groups and tell them what you want to do. Go to facebook and twitter. Spread the word any way you can. After that perhaps the system will participate.

        This is a great idea and the hcpss should offer some assistance in its birth. Park and Rec has a lot of programs and a lot of experience in organizing and scheduling, plus they owe the hcpss. They have been using the facilities for years without paying for the upkeep and they just got turf on high school fields. I believe they should offer some of their time to get this going. As much as Jack Milani and I disagree on turf he did offer to get the freshman programs going. We also need sports in middle school while we are at it.

        We talked about language in our schools and American sign language is a real posibility if we reach out to the deaf community. Myself, I wanted to bring in Spanish but not the kings Spanish. I wanted to bring in the spanish community and teach the children to speak it.

        Somewhere else on here I wanted to have our high school musicians volunteer twice a month in the evening to give our elementary and middle school students personal lessons at our middle schools for a small donation of 5 or 10 dollars which would go to the music depatments.

        Robotics would be cool, magic, any of the arts and anything else you could dream up which would interest and involve them. Give them a real sense of ownership and pride.

        Than of course there is the matter of paying respect to those in the system. In this box we put their expectations as Mrs. Vaillancout stated such as commitment.

        This is going to be far beyond minor assistance. Parents need an honest invitation. It is not good to put your children on the bus and wave good bye, it is not natural. A parent needs to be constantly involved to raise a healthy child. What we really need is to change the culture. A real partnership where the parent is expected to be there and if we have to extend services, education or support to a parent than that is what it takes to provide every child a quality education. If we have to volunteer to educate ourselves so we can educate our children than that is what it takes. The hcpss needs to be able to tap the intellectual wealth of the community. Everyone has a place in our schools and if we allow this we will have great schools.

        Yes, I have gone too far but it is within reach. Start here and begin to lay out a business model. Myself, I would break this into 12 groups, each consisting of 1 high school and roughly including their feeder schools. The reason I would do this is so the children could see the full circle from kindergarten to the point they are not just about to graduate but they are teachers and in retrospect where they came from as well as what they accomplished. Place the bulk of the programs in the middle or elementary where they are lacking. Increase participation in our volunteer ranks by encouraging our older children to participate in helping our younger ones and offer them credit or their community service requirement.

        In reading all of your comments it is clear you all have an idea of how to design this from recruiting to training. All you really need to make this happen is a place where you can lay it out. Just one room at central office would be enough to get this started. When it comes to how much bang for the buck, I think it will be impressive. I know this can make a huge difference. This will really put heart in our communities.

        jack


        --- In howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com, "eibbede" wrote:
        >
        > You are right that what gave life to this thread was that some were being told that they were no longer allowed to volunteer in the school. I think it was determined that the basis for this did not actually rest with the teacher's union. Please correct me if I've misunderstood.
        >
        > However I think your comment "a group of well intentioned parents who would like to help their kids' classmates learn how to read after school sometimes?" is diminishing what is being talked about here. It does not appear to me that the parents expressing a desire to become more involved in their school as a simple "sometimes" or "when I can make it". The concerns are also not limited to tutoring of students which is offered to some schools through A-OK. Tutoring or special needs that a teacher has should definitely have an avenue to be addressed but this should not be the end of where parents can contribute. I think we are also talking about coaching a Destination Imagination team, leading a book club, organizing a robotics class, or anything else that would grab the interest of the school's students.
        >
        > Teachers can only do so much as we've all acknowledged. It's time to let willing and able parents come in and help support the school community as a whole. How do we go about this? Do we start with the PTAs, the principals, or the school board?
        >
        > --- In howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com, cynthia vaillancourt wrote:
        > >
        > >
        > > Hi Debbie, and welcome.
        > >
        > > Just to be clear - I agree that there are many volunteers who commit to a schedule and keep it, and there are many activities that are very successfully run by volunteers in the schools using these volunteers.
        > >
        > > I believe the issue that initiated this thread was that instead of encouraging parents and volunteers to take on this kind of project or commitment, some schools actively discourage it - even disallow it ... and sometimes the reason given is "the teacher's union".
        > >
        > > In trying to understand what the objection is to allowing/encouraging volunteer activities might be, I am trying to share information I have gleaned from many sources. Your kind of "new blood" and "enthusiasm" is crucial for the HCPSS to remain the high performing system it is.
        > >
        > > Unfortunately, years of experience tells some principals that sometimes these programs are "more trouble than they are worth". It is a jaded view, certainly, but if we are to overcome the objections, we need to understand where they are coming from. Take, for example, an after school homework club that promises help to students who stay after school. The interested students assemble in the cafeteria and are supposed to be paired up with an adult volunteer. Arrangements have been made beforehand for parents to pick the children up at a specific time. The buses have gone. Everything goes smoothly for a while, but then things come up, volunteers drop out, sometimes there are not enough volunteers to monitor the children - let alone help them with their homework. The more it starts to feel like babysitting, the fewer volunteers are interested in participating. The program falls apart and the organizer tells the principal they have to cancel the program. Now the principal is getting calls and complaints. Parents are pressuring the principal to make good on the promises of the program. Parents who have made day care arrangements around the program are furious, and stuck. That scenario only has to play out one time - even if 50 activities worked out great - to make a principal hesitant to agree to new programs.
        > >
        > > That is just one example. I have heard stories of volunteers who confused the students more than helped them. I have heard of parents who were angry that other parent volunteers said inappropriate things to their child... or about their child... or tried to discipline their child in some way. All complaints ultimately end up on the principal's desk.
        > >
        > > There are, of course, more good stories than bad... but the bad ends up undermining the good.
        > >
        > > That is not to say all is lost, or there is no point in trying. It is to say --- here are some of the pitfalls that need to be avoided. The A-OK program is very successful, and very structured. They do ask for significant commitments from their volunteers. They are a 501(c)(3) organization. It is run be a very committed core. It is a model for a successful program. But it is not a "parent volunteer program".
        > >
        > > The question seems to be "how can we find a happy medium" between a formal, structured program like A-OK, and a group of well intentioned parents who would like to help their kids' classmates learn how to read after school sometimes?
        > >
        > > cindy v
        > >
        > >
        > > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
        > > From: evedal06@
        > > Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 17:50:14 +0000
        > > Subject: [howardpubliced] Re: changed to - parent volunteerism
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        > > Hi,
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        > > I am new here and have been following this discussion very closely. As a kindergarten parent I've been very disappointed in the extremely limited after school activities offered at my son's school. I am not so concerned about this year but am thinking about the coming years. After school activities have the ability to really enrich a student's life. I still have incredibly fond memories of various clubs and programs that I was involved in as a student.
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        > > As a parent I am more than willing to do my part to help make these opportunities for our children a reality. I do not see that one must be an "employee" to commit to a regular schedule. All of us make regular commitments in just about every area of our life. Why would a commitment to a schedule when volunteering at a school be seen as any less important than every other regularly scheduled activity? Most organizations who rely on volunteers ask those volunteers to commit to a schedule so that their agency runs smoothly. You are always going to come across the exception but I believe most people who volunteer, for whatever they've chosen, take that responsibility seriously. This is not too much to ask or expect.
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        > > I currently volunteer in my son's classroom once a week and know of many other parent's who make regular commitments to their child's class. I would love to be able to facilitate an activity that would not only benefit my son but any interested students. My husband works for an organization which allows the employees 4 hrs a week to come out and work in our schools, the schools just have to ask. They also have an extensive list of talks that the school could request as enrichment for interested students. These are untapped resources just waiting to be called upon.
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        > > I look forward to seeing where this can go and helping out where needed.
        > >
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        > > Debbie
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > > --- In howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com, cynthia vaillancourt wrote:
        > >
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        > > > It is disheartening to hear of instances where eager parents have been discouraged or shooed away by school administrations. I don't get it, and will ask about it. The availability of enriching activities - parent led or otherwise - should not be dependent upon which school your child goes to... whether it is a question of resources, administration personality, or misapplied policies.
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > There are lots of well staffed volunteer organizations working with our kids. No question about it, we have some great parents, families, community members here in HoCo. I would point out, however, that for every one of the activities you reference, there is someone who has committed to the awesome responsibility to organize, coordinate, administer, monitor, maintain and when necessary staff, the programs.
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > I think what seems to be being asked for here is for there to be a system wide, organized means of coordinating, organizing, and executing programs where parents and community members can go to a recognized entity to volunteer their services and be matched with programs, clubs or activities in their area of interest and school of choice.
        > >
        > > >
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        > > > Many good programs only survive as long as the original organizer(s) continue to coordinate them. We need a way to sustain programs that are highly effective beyond individuals' commitments to maintain them.
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        > > > Many good ideas do not reach their full potential because of difficulties for the organizer to find and maintain a reliable, regular schedule of volunteers.
        > >
        > > >
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        > > > In spite of the number of parents who are willing to serve --- many of them can only drop in, cannot commit to regular schedules, are unreliable, or get burned out.
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > I think what I have distilled from these conversations and the conversations I have had with school administrators and volunteer organizers, is that in order to really tap into the volunteer base to execute these extra-curricular and enrichment programs ... we need people who are willing and able to commit to a regular schedule... and that sounds like an "employee" to me.
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > Thoughts?
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        > > > cv
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        > > >
        > >
        > > > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
        > >
        > > > From: theresajones10@
        > >
        > > > Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 08:17:57 -0800
        > >
        > > > Subject: Re: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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        > > > Cindy, you may be looking at this from an employment, top down approach. Scouting volunteers have their meetings in school buildings as well as their homes. And in many other districts parents either assist or run programs. Consider robotics. There are parent led groups as well as teacher led groups. One example is that in elementary school, they recruit parents to coach battle of the books teams. If you attend one of the contests you will see that many are parent led teams.
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        > > >
        > >
        > > > Then there's the "tutoring". In our elementary school, there was an organized tutoring group. One parent recruited other parents and then took referrals from the teachers. But, when I went to the school asking to run a club at school that I had been running out of my home, I was told that I needed to be a nonprofit agency or I needed to get a teacher to run it. I'm sure there are all kinds of terrible things that could happen, but what's missing is trust. It's like the schools are afraid of the parents. It's clear that this is ingrained and unlikely to change. As with anything, we just work around it and do the best we can. But, I think all the children suffer when the teachers ask parents not to schedule parent conferences, when less than half the teachers show up for back to school night where there's no parking due to football practices, and when parents are told they
        > >
        > > > are not wanted as volunteers in the school. I can't help but think if the teachers saw the parents of the higher performing students and worked side by side with them in leading all students toward success, and felt the support of a load lifted by a volunteer, they might WANT to have a parent conference and might WANT to show up for back to school night. They might feel more connected to their schools, the parents might feel more connected, and yes, students would perform better! Well, I think I've said all I can on the subject. So, I'll read but stop arguing my point. Thanks for at least entertaining my concerns.
        > >
        > > >
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        > > > Take care.
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > From: cynthia vaillancourt
        > >
        > > > To: "howardpubliced@yahoogroups.comhowardpubliced@yahoogroups.com>
        > >
        > > > Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10:28 AM
        > >
        > > > Subject: RE: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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        > > > I am afraid Bob is right. It is not just the practical issues of clearing people who work in the schools - which, btw, I believe are pretty reasonable - but the need for a commitment of time, schedule and resources necessary to be a consistent help. The kinds of programs being suggested for enrichment type clubs and tutoring do not lend themselves to the "drop in when it is convenient" volunteer availability most of us have.
        > >
        > > > On the other hand, we should not dismiss good ideas just because they may mot ultimately work out as hoped - and nothing happens if nothing happens.
        > >
        > > > cindy v
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
        > >
        > > > From: qwertysws@
        > >
        > > > Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 06:39:02 -0800
        > >
        > > > Subject: Re: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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        > > > This is NOT an easy sell. Check out issues with volunteers all over the country. People have less time to do this. Plus there are a lot of people who talk the talk and refuse to walk the walk.
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        > > >
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        > > > Additionally, we cannot just set up a website and turn volunteers loose in the schools. Talk about a safety hazard. If a parent volunteers to teach something, we need to verify they CAN do it, they SHOULD do it - from a safety perspective.
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > Also, putting a thread on howardcountypubliced is a poor idea. (Sorry guys). Many people have run from this place for reasons that have been stated (and re-stated for that matter). I can tell you that at several parent organizations I have been to people do make jokes about this place. You will not get a new "crop" of volunteers by asking them to come
        > >
        > > > here.
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        > > > Last, yahoo groups is on its last legs. There are so many other places that parents are using to set up groups that suggesting yahoo is akin to saying "Want to go to the record store and pick up a couple of 78's?" ;)
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > Just a few thoughts.
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > --- On Tue, 2/26/13, pamythompson wrote:
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > From: pamythompson
        > >
        > > > Subject: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
        > >
        > > > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
        > >
        > > > Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 9:20 PM
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        > > > This is an easy sell. The parents will buy into it. You need a room to work, a website and just lay it out. This is not that complicated. Just like building a nonprofit business. Start with a dedicted thread on howardpubliced and give it a title, anything, the volunteer project and run with it. Make a list of what you want. Lay out a general idea of this work in progress. Gather resources such as Mrs. Vaillancourt's generous offer which will give you various models. Advertise on the hcpss website and in each school newsletter seeking input and assistance. Just run with it. Perhaps you want to break it up by middle school with their feeder elementary schools in that group. Create a competition for bragging rights for the best ideas and than share them. Get excited and know you can create something the system can not turn away. You folks have a great idea and something when you build it will be a model for other school systems.
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        > > > jack
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        > >
        > > > --- In howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com, cynthia vaillancourt wrote:
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        > > > > There are a number of groups who have very a specific focus; recruit, train and organize their volunteers; and have been pretty successful. I will see about linking to some of them in case any folks would like to volunteer with these existing organizations, or use them as a model for additional efforts. We are fortunate in HoCo to have many dedicated volunteers, but can always use more.
        > >
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        > > > > Cindy V
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        > > > > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
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        > > > > From: theresajones10@
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        > > > > Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2013 18:56:16 -0800
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        > > > > Subject: Re: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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        > > > > Ann, this is bigger than one staff person's job. It will take a real effort by the people who make and enforce policy. I believe this boils down to the specific administrators at the school and the priority they place on community and parent involvement. There has been plenty of pressure from below. There needs to be priority placed on this from above.
        > >
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        > > > > From: Ann
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        > > > > To: "howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com"
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        > > > > howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com>
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        > > > > Cc: "howardpubliced@@yahoogroups.com>
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        > > > > Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:01 PM
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        > > > > Subject: Re: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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        > > > > Diane Martin is the staff person charged with Family and Community Involvement. Contact her at diane_martin@ Send your questions to her.
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        > > > > Sent from my iPhone
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        > > > > On Feb 26, 2013, at 11:25 AM, Theresa Jones wrote:
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        > > > > So, how do we get it opened up that parents can come into schools and volunteer? If the union wants this and the school board wants this, it should be easy to offer our administrators guidance in how to effectively use parents. In elementary, we had a lot more clubs and a lot more parent involvement.
        > >
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        > > > > At orientation, the principal said that it's time to drop back and let your kids become independent. If parents want to be involved, they should go to the PTA, and from time to time, teachers will ask for help with things like donating Kleenex, field trips, etc. Yet, the teachers tell me they don't have time to grade papers so they don't assign essays. They don't have time to differentiate lesson plans between GT and regular. Things are just not adding up for me, despite what Cindy and
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        > > > > Paul say. I can't help but think if everyone sees a need and supports parent volunteers, we would have parent volunteers in our middle schools.
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        > > > > We have no after school robotics, math clubs, science clubs, Shakespeare clubs, in our neck of the woods. We have beading, homework club, chess club, art and volleyball. Parents do not tutor.
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        > > > > Theresa
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        > > > > From: yamomanem
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        > > > > To: howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com
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        > > >
        > >
        > > > > Sent: Monday, February 25, 2013 10:23 PM
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        > > >
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        > > > > Subject: [howardpubliced] Re: What's not to like about $734.9 million ?
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        > > > > Good evening all,
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        > > > > Cindy's gut feeling, as usual, is right on target: there is no part of the agreement between HCEA and HCPSS that precludes parent tutors or volunteers of any kind. Indeed, we love the help and know it makes a difference for young people!
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        > > > > It might be worth noting that it isn't even required that a full-time teacher in HCPSS be a union member. The "shop" isn't "closed," in union parlance--it's open to anyone who can get the job. That's a tall order, these days, as HCPSS has enjoyed thousands of applications for a couple hundred positions in each of the past five years or so.
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        > > > > HCEA does, as a completely free service, maintain a list of members who tutor, and it is available through the guidance/student services department of every school. Like our Help-A-Child fund (supports
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        > > > > families in
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        > > > > need by providing supplies, jackets, eyeglasses, etc), we donate our staff time to the project.
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        > > > > There are a number of school system policies which bear on the matter. Teachers may not tutor their own students for money. Chris correctly notes that certificated personnel (mostly teachers, but certainly we aren't the only staff with certification) are preferred as paid and unpaid coaches/club advisors, etc. I'm not sure exactly who needs fingerprints and background checks, as we do, but if you are to work in a school regularly, you might! There are also training bits (child abuse/neglect, perhaps blood borne pathogens) that may be required of regular visitors/volunteers.
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        > > > > Paul Lemle, HCEA president
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        > > > > --- In howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com, cynthia vaillancourt
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        > > > > > Parents cannot tutor because it is against union rules?
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        > > > > > Over the years I have heard the teacher's union as the Bogey (boogey) Man for a lot of questionable refusals. If someone can point out the part of the contract where the "no parents as tutors" rule is, please let me know.
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        > > > > > I would really like to see the "teachers as the enemy" mentality go away. If we are going to accomplish our goals, the teachers have to be brought in as part of the solution --- not looked at as the problem.
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        > > > > > Cindy V.
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        > > > > ------------------------------------
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        > > > > This is the Howard Public Education Mailing List. All original messages posted here are placed in the public domain unless the poster states otherwise. Re-published messages (i.e. newspaper articles) retain their original copyright status.Yahoo! Groups Links
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        > > > > howardpubliced-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
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