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Duncan Tells PTA of Plans to Double Parent-Engagement Aid

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Parent engagement, like so many areas of education, could benefit from more money—and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke about that this week before some highly engaged parents attending the National PTA Legislative Conference in Arlington, VA.

"One area where I think we've desperately under invested, and where we're part of the problem, is around parent engagement," Duncan told a gathering of PTA representatives on March 7 before they dispersed to lobby for their agenda on Capitol Hill. "I don't think we've put enough resources there."

Duncan said the U.S. Department of Education has asked Congress to double the budget for parent engagement programs in fiscal year 2013 to about $280 million, from about $135 million.

"The goal is not for me to design programs, or have Washington design programs. We simply want to take to scale those programs at the local level that have made the difference," he said.

The goal will be to replicate programs that help increase student graduation rates—both from high school and college—and that make more children career-ready. Proven programs where parent engagement helps reduce dropout rates would be targeted for more funding, too.

The department also is asking Congress to give flexibility to states to put an additional option of 1 percent of their Title 1 money behind parent engagement. Duncan estimates that would mean an increase from $280 million to $415 million.

"So it's never enough. I wish it was more, but if we can double and potentially triple the amount of resources there, we think that's part of the solution," he said.

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