C. Ed Massey, president of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), queried GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney this morning during a session at NBC’s Education Nation Summit.
Massey asked for details about the candidate’s views on local school boards and parental involvement. Romney spent much of the session speaking about the need for parental involvement.
Romney used the question to further promote his beliefs that education begins at home and parents should be heavily involved in their child’s education. Romney has proposed a plan that would give students from low-income families or students who receive special education services—about 50 percent of all public school students, he estimates—access to the average per-pupil amount of federal funds under Title I or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to use at any school that best meets their educational needs. Currently the funds are given to states to distribute to local school districts by formulas based on need.
After the session, Massey said he was pleased with the opportunity to meet Romney and be able “to make sure he knew that school board governance was the critical factor in meeting the needs of the local community.”
“What I liked about [Romney’s remarks] was he did recognize the importance of parental involvement,” Massey said. “What he didn’t say much about was how that’s correlated through school boards.”
Massey and NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant are attending the event, held Sept. 23 to 25 in New York City. Watch the video (Massey appears at position 32:06) or read a transcript of the exchange:
MASSEY: Good morning. Ed Massey from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I serve as president of the National School Boards Association and sit on the National PTA board, as well. And I want to know a little more in detail how you view local school boards and parental involvement in the process of educational reform.
ROMNEY: Well, we have great organizations that represent the teachers. We have great organizations that represent the parents. But I’d like to see them have more clout. I’d like to see parents very much involved in evaluating the success of schools. If we had a more transparent system for evaluating the success of a school A through F, I think schools ought to have report cards the way they do in Florida. And if we had that, then if parents saw their school get a C or D or worse, those parents are going to be outraged. And they’ll want to gather together, become part of PTA organizations and talk about taking back the school. We can’t say and you have choice to go somewhere else. That’s a good thing to have that choice, but we also have to fix the school itself and parents are oftentimes going to be the impetus, the energy behind real change which must occur in a lot of our local school districts. I imagine you found the same thing. Is that right?
ED: I have. And sitting on a local school board for 16 years, I’ve found that the community engagement is so powerful, if you have parents in schools and you’ve engaged your community, the school will be successful. Regardless of the circumstances. That’s what I’ve found.
ROMNEY: That reminds me about the point about the Boston teachers who said if the parents show up at parent/teacher night, the kid will do just fine. And that just underscores the impact of parents. The idea that somehow schools are entirely separate from the home, from the economic circumstances of the home, from the social experiences of the home that’s just not reality. The home is an integral part of the education system and the best teachers in the world can’t possibly overcome a home pulling in the different direction. That’s why I propose in my state that the parents had to go to a training program to learn about the impact of education. I wasn’t able to get it done. It’s something I wanted to do and something that has merit. We have to pull the parents into education because they are an essential part of the education experience of their child.
ED: Thank you, governor.