Building Community and Improving Education


With the recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary the question of how best to keep our schools strong (and improve those that are struggling) is the subject of much debate. And while The School Communications Agency does not take sides in the political argument, it seems clear that the future will continue to involve a mix of public, private and charter programs. However, the core of the discussion should include the need to build the communities that support our schools through better parent and business engagement, regardless of which of the three arenas are involved.

In an NEA Policy Brief, entitled “Parent, Family, Community Involvement in Education”  NEA President Dennis Van Roekel states that “Parents, families, educators and communities—there’s no better partnership to assure that all students pre-K- to high school—have the support and resources they need to succeed in school and in life.” And he goes on to say:

“In addition to the vital role that parents and family members play in a child’s education, the broader community too has a responsibility to assure high-quality education for all students.”

Community is defined as not only parents, teachers, administrators but also the vital businesses that provide support and role models for eventual success. When businesses support schools, both the schools and the businesses succeed.

NEA states that Parent, family, and the business community’s involvement in education correlates with higher academic performance and school improvement. When schools, parents, families, and communities (businesses) work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enroll in higher level programs.

And, as this article from Education World shows, the businesses involved do better as well: School-Business Partnerships That Work: Success Stories from Schools of All Sizes .

This concept of community and business engagement is further supported in separately published research noted in the NEA brief where Joyce Epstein of Johns Hopkins University, described six types of involvement— parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community— for schools, families, and communities to engage all parties and help meet student needs.

The NEA Policy Brief concludes by providing a list of the top 10 ways to succeed at building a community that improves education. Among the top 10 ways, communications and community involvement are highlighted:

  1. Ensure timely access to information, using effective communications tools that address various family structures and are translated into languages that parents/families understand.
  2. Develop an outreach strategy to inform families, businesses, and the community (businesses) about school and family involvement opportunities, policies, and programs.

At The School Communications Agency, we connect schools with the community to make sure that great communications happen. Our goal is three fold: 1) Engage Parents; 2) Provide financial support to schools, and 3) Help business that support schools reach the right audience and grow their businesses.

We love this goal and like talking to teachers, administrators, parents and businesses about your ideas on how the make strong schools through strong, engaged communities. Contact me at or our community engagement leader at