"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." 

~Helen Keller


As the release of the May 2012 ISN newsletter focusing on parental involvement in inclusive schools approaches, I recognize that the phrase 'parent involvement' is certainly inadequate considering its impact.  First, the phrase signifies a one-way street rather than the partnership it is intended to be.  Second, perhaps the word 'engagement' should be used to reflect the active roles that parents play at home and at school. Finally, both parent and educator should be referenced in the title to describe the importance of a shared commitment to the student from both entities.  In any case, the partnership between parents and educators toward advancing inclusive practices is a critical component in its success. 


Not long ago, I was facilitating a discussion group composed of parents of students with disabilities.  I asked the group to tell me in what ways their school could be more helpful and responsive to their needs as a parent.   A mother of a middle school student suggested that "it would be wonderful if the schools would remember that I am first 'a parent'  -- not solely a parent of a child with disabilities.  I am also interested in the things all parents are concerned with, such as information about the new school library, the soccer team tournament, and so on." 


Wise words!  So let's begin by looking at the standards for parent/family involvement published in 2002 by the National Parent Teacher Association.   You can read about them in their entirety HERE
When we study these six standards, it is clear that they are equally relevant for parents of students with and without disabilities.  


As we look at the importance of the partnership between educators and parents of students with disabilities, we are fortunate that there are so many resources and tools available.  We have several featured below in this month's ISN newsletter. Enjoy!

Frances Stetson, Ph.D.

President, Stetson & Associates, Inc.


We are so pleased to introduce the work of Janice Fialka, LMSW, ACSW, lecturer, author, and advocate for inclusive practices.  In her most recent book, Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children with Disabilities:  A Dance that Matters, Janice draws upon her experiences as a parent of a son with disabilities and as an educator to provide practical guidance, strategies, and resources. 


Corwin Press has graciously agreed to allow ISN to provide you with four excerpts from this outstanding book. 

You can read the excerpts HERE and order the book HERE.


 In addition to this excerpt, Ms. Fialka has included two additional articles on parent involvement.  In her short story about the importance of parents providing positive communications to schools, Keep the Dance of Reciprocity Alive,  will likely have many parents asking themselves: 'What positive message can I provide to my child's teacher?" You can access both articles on our Family Involvement Resource page.

While the ISN does not conduct research, we enjoy having the opportunity to share various sources of studies and findings related to inclusive education and monthly topics.  We must offer our disclaimer to any research information we provide on this site, but think there are many interesting studies that either are or should be readily available to the public.  This month, we hope you enjoy: What Research Says about Parent Involvement in Children's Education: In Relation to Academic Achievement


This month we are excited to launch a new feature of the ISN, Ask the Expert.  Each month, we will provide a video blog with an expert based on our monthly topic.  For May 2012, our expert, Cathy Giardina will provide her answer to the question: How do we build effective parent-school partnerships in inclusive schools?








Featured Website:
 Sites to Visit Often: 
Parent involvement in schools is much more than attending parent conferences and PTOs... In these Education World resources, learn about practical ways in which schools are involving parents.
To help public education leaders and special education practitioners in their quest to be effective partners with parents of children with special needs, we are pleased to share Acronym Soup
This video features Howard J. Fulfrost, a noted attorney specializing in education law with Fagan, Friedman & Fulfrost. It reminds everyone that education acronyms, if not explained, can create barriers to effective communication between educators and parents. Please click HERE  to watch the short video.

Improving IEP Meetings: A Parent Survey- This survey was designed to be provided to parents as they leave the IEP meeting.  


Parent Survey- This survey was designed for parents of students with disabilities to assist the district or school in evaluating their services.  


Parents as Active and Informed Partners: A Framework for District and School Self-Assessment- 

This brief self-assessment instrument helps to guide a discussion of the quality of a school's efforts toward parent involvement.

Coming in our June Issue: 
Leadership for Inclusive Schools: The Essential Role of the Principal