Increasing parental engagement in struggling schools

Increasing parental engagement in struggling schools in south St. Pete by 100 percent?

The Rainey’s Bulletin for the past several weeks has been requesting community perspectives on increasing parental engagement. We are pleased to share another article submitted by a father that focuses on the father’s role of engagement.    

The father’s role

Phil Garrett, Community Advocate

Phil Garrett, Community Advocate

Parental engagement in a child’s education is paramount to the successes of the child as well as a community. Parental engagement is important because it helps increase active participation between parents, schools and communities. This method is a healthy process that makes the child’s educational experience whole.  I would like to open a series of discussions for all those interested throughout the community, of the “powers” of parental engagement and solutions that would increase parental participation in our children’s education by 100 percent.

Today, I would like to discuss the father’s separate roles in supporting their child’s educational successes. The past 40 years of the African-American community’s history has been marred with tough challenges for African Americans. We have had some successes and we have had some failures.

In my opinion, the most degrading challenge of our community has been the pilgrimage of the black man from the bosom of the black woman and his family to the streets and jails of the capitalistic, hypnotic enslavement machine of this world. In my opinion, we must quickly bring the African-American man back to his rightful place in the family.

I believe fathers can play an important role in the educational future of our children and our community’s success. In a 2006 publication posted by the Child Welfare Gateway entitled “The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children,” it was stated, “Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes.”

I believe the stronger the bond between parent and child, the more confident a child will be in environments away from the parent. My father played an important role in my life as he raised eight children. His most important role was his presence. There is nothing like a father showing up at school to have a discussion with a teacher or an administrator in efforts to support his child’s educational process.

I believe the father is the key to destroying the “School to Jail” Pipeline. The father has the natural presence to generate the authoritative demands needed to instruct or discipline a child. Keep in mind that the demands of the father’s presence are most important during the early childhood stages. Yes, I mean instilling the fear of God in a child’s mind in regards to respecting and obeying the parent and authority, in a kind way of course.

We have established the importance of a father engaged in their child’s life and educational process. Now let’s look at how we can increase parental engagement by 100 percent. One answer is: get the fathers involved. I have gone to many school events and have seen time and time again the mothers and grandmothers outnumber the fathers three to one. Once we can get the fathers to participate in the precious moments of their child’s life, we will begin to decrease the communication gap many families seem to have in today’s society.

I believe the communication gap that many families have are due to the inconsistencies in the relationship of the many parents that are separated and/or are not committed to facing the challenges of parenting. This gap in communication disallows the separated couple from supporting the children of our community as a joint whole. In other words, both parents need to come together under one accord when it comes to raising their children, regardless if they are separated.

Yes, the task of supporting our children in their growth is a tough and endless task, but it is a job that must be done and done well if we are to better our future as a community. The mother and grandmother have been the foundation of the family for decades in our community and we should support our Queens by any means necessary.

Speaking of the mothers and grandmothers, let’s tackle the role of the female parents in our community and how we can support them in the next discussion. In closing, there are many ways and reasons why a “parent engaged equals a child learning” and we must support these reasons with tangible community leadership and long lasting solutions.

Phil Garrett, Community Family Advocate

Pastor Rainey

Pastor Rainey

Pastor Rainey serves as Community Outreach Pastor for the Faith Memorial MB Church, Rev. Dr. Bragg L. Turner, Senior Pastor.  He also serves as president of the Parent Support For Education Council, Inc., and chairman of JWB South County Community Council. He may be contacted: or (727) 420-1326.

The Parent Council meets every third Thursday of each month @ 6:30 p.m., Faith Memorial Missionary Baptist 1800 18th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, at the (Resource Center), to the far right and adjacent to the Church. The community is welcome.

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