May 22, 2018
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Helping children achieve success

300 dpi Chris Ware color comic illustration of unhappy young student with backpack and bag-lunch waiting for bus with a sarcastic "Yipee." Lexington Herald-Leader 2008

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By Dolly Sullivan, Special to the BDN

Thursday is National Parent Involvement Day — a day to focus on the importance of parents taking a strong role in their children’s education. Maine’s future depends on our ability to prepare our people for success through a quality education, and parental involvement is an important factor in helping children learn.

The Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education, the Maine Parent Teacher Association, the Maine Parent Federation, Unum and Project Appleseed are marking National Parent Involvement day by launching a Parent and Family Involvement campaign. This campaign is part of the coalition’s Prepare Maine initiative, which is uniting community, business, education and law enforcement leaders around a vision of a 21st century educational system that prepares all Mainers for success in college, career, life and citizenship.

Research shows that parent and family involvement is key to improving student performance and overall school quality. Parents have a role and enormous responsibility to make sure their children are ready to learn and be successful in school, and that schools are meeting the needs of all of the children they serve.

To begin to understand the state of parent engagement in Maine, MCEE recently did an informal survey of teachers about parent involvement. We asked them what strategies they use in their classrooms to engage parents and families. We asked about district policies that focused on improving parent engagement. But when we asked them what is the most important thing a parent can do to ensure their child succeeds in school, we were struck by how simple and common-sense the answers were.

Teachers suggested that parents read to and with their children, keep them well fed and well rested, check in with teachers regularly, oversee homework, be positive about education, have high expectations of the child and school, and establish strong home and school connections. Teachers especially insisted on the importance of parents reading to their children as often as possible.

Many Maine parents do all of these things, but a number of children lack that type of support system. As parents, grandparents and community leaders, we need to get involved to ensure that each and every child has the necessary supports in place. When that happens, we will see students thrive, classrooms flourish and overall school performance improve. As a community, we share responsibility for creating conditions where every child succeeds in preparing for the future.

The Parent and Family Involvement campaign will develop a network of parents, families and educators to advocate for quality education to ensure that all students are supported and prepared for academic and social success and schools succeed. The network will serve as a resource and clearinghouse for best practices.

Through our partnerships, MCEE will provide leadership training and convene members to share best practices and participate in development activities. There are already some great things going on all around the state, and we want you to share your ideas and experiences with us.

You can join our effort today. Our partner, Project Appleseed, is in the midst of a National Campaign for Public School Improvement, and we invite you to take their Parent Involvement Pledge. Go to MCEE’s Prepare Maine website — — to learn more. You can find us on Facebook at

When parents are involved and get their communities involved, children do better in school, and their schools provide a better education for all children. National Parent Involvement Day is the perfect time to make that commitment to help Maine’s children achieve academic and social success.

Dolly Sullivan is the program director for the Maine Coalition for Excellence in Education.

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