BPS ‘university’ brings in parents

February 17, 2012
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(Courtesy Photo) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (right) visits with parents at the Kennedy School on Feb. 6 while Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson (rear center) looks on.

HYDE SQ.—U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited the John F. Kennedy Elementary School Feb. 6 to observe the Boston Public School’s (BPS) Parent University program.

The program, which was an initiative Superintendent Carol Johnson started in 2010, is a parent-engagement strategy. It allows parents of BPS students to attend a full day of classes, ranging from how to cook healthy meals for their children to filling out college financial aid forms to math classes.

“We’ve had real success with this program,” said BPS spokesman Matt Wilder. “This program has really grown. The parents and kids take pride in this program.”

Wilder added that hundreds of parents graduated from the program last spring. Each received a certificate of completion from the district.

“Parents really take this seriously,” he said. “For some, this is their only real experience with school.”

The classes are normally held at Northeastern University on Saturdays, but are sometimes conducted at various city schools. Such was the case when the secretary visited the Kennedy School, where a math class was taking place.

Richard Mitchell, who has four children in BPS, said the program has been a great experience allowing him to network with parents and be more involved in his children’s education.

“I have four kids,” he said. “They have four different needs and desires. How can I reach each one? The program really helps you to figure out what you child needs.”