A popular sentiment is that "it takes a village" to raise a child, but the MAHCC believes it takes a family to raise a child and a village to make available opportunities for success to that child. A parent academy is a valuable program that provides parents with tools and resources they can use to help their children achieve, and it makes good business sense.
It is the Chamber's position that the family, in whatever way that family is structured, molds and shapes the education and future of its children. Parents should be, and are, primary early influencers. Despite constraints and competing demands on their time, it is parents who can best provide their children with early opportunities. Building upon that foundation, the community-at-large should develop programs and opportunities that children can take advantage of as they grow.
The business case for early parental engagement is simple. What begins in the home as parents providing their children with simple learning opportunities becomes an investment in their children's future that, ultimately, results in a more educated workforce, a higher quality of life, and a more prosperous nation.
MAHCC has been a strong supporter of early parental engagement and the concept of a parent academy since 2007 when it first partnered with the Prince George's County Public School System in a Dual Language Parent Summit, attended by over 1,000 parents in an enthusiastic and successful effort to bring a diverse community together around education. Since then, other parent academies have been created. As examples, see Montgomery County's parent academy 2015 schedule at http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/parentacademy/ or Arlington's Public School Academy at: http://www.apsva.us/Page/2808.
But the love of learning starts at home. Beginning in pre-school, and before, parents can provide their children with enrichment by instilling a tradition of reading bedtime stories and making weekly trips to the library as a part of the family's routine activities. A life-long love of reading translates into higher education rates and chances for greater academic and career success.
A childhood punctuated by visits to public gardens, nature parks, and local museums provide learning opportunities and an interest in science simply by exploring nature and art, encouraging questions, and instilling a sense of wonder and curiosity. Such exposure encourages a love of education that leads to personal enrichment and opens doors to academic achievement and jobs with higher earning capacity.
Libraries, parks, and museums are inexpensive—and mostly free in this country—and yet they are invaluable community resources that are abundant and readily available to most families.
Parents often work at two or three jobs and have limited resources; yet, many worry about the pull of the street culture upon their children. A program that offers parents resources and helps them the value of education for their children's future makes good community sense and good business sense.
A parent academy encourages communication and helps to eliminate barriers that parents from diverse cultures often experience. In learning about available resources and services, parents can better support their children's learning, understand the school's requirements and expectations, instill discipline and accountability in their children, and be attuned to their children's needs and the opportunities available to them.
The MAHCC recognizes it's not easy for someone to come from a third-world country to a highly technological and complex society such as the United States. Thus, the partnership established between the public school system and parents—a parent academy—is beneficial on many levels.
The MAHCC endorses parent academy programs as essential elements in the educational progress of a new generation of Hispanic children entering the public school system. Such worthwhile investments in our nation's future requires a commitment of time and effort by the public and private sectors. Schools and communities need to support the academies by providing resources and by helping to make it more possible for Hispanic parents to participate by assisting with language needs.
The result is good for our nation's families, for the community at large, and it's good for business.