Saturday, November 5, Alice ISD will host its 5th annual Family Engagement Conference at Alice High School from 7:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Parents from across the school district will gather to participate in sessions geared towards gaining more participation from parents in the educational process.

What should be incentive enough for parents to engage in the educational life of their children should be the benefits derived from greater parental participation and interaction, including improved student grades, attendance, attitudes and behavior and greater respect for educational goals. If parents and guardians want their children to be successful then they must acknowledge the critical role they play in making it happen. 

Today, too many campuses struggle to find volunteers or active members of the various parent and similar organizations that assist schools with much needed support. Parents cannot afford to simply be spectators from the sidelines. They must be first string players. Parent concern should not stop at the intermediate level. It must continue throughout the high school years.

School districts and campuses should also do their part in enabling and helping with this two-way partnership. Schools must always be inviting and welcoming places that encourages and appreciates parent and alumni presence. Schools must respect and be responsive to concerns.

Any school district governance must also recognize the strong link between school quality and a city's economic development efforts. A school district's image impacts local housing markets and influences the aesthetic character and personality of a community. This effects the ability to attract or retain business and industry, new residents, and a growing professional career or skilled workforce.

For these reasons we must not just improve family engagement, but must also move to advance total community engagement with schools to include government, business and industry, and civic organizations. There must be ongoing and effective communication to look at ways to make our schools stronger and more efficient community service centers for the entire district to include culture and recreation, training, literacy, and health programs.

Working together with true collaboration can produce results for all stakeholders. Everyone is an important ingredient for this recipe towards success. These bridges must be built.