CMS hopes parents will pitch in

This could be the year parents go back to school.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman this fall plans to launch “Parent University,” an initiative to train parents in how to work with their children, while also helping parents get an education of their own.

It marks the latest twist in educators' perennial quest to drum up more parental support for children's education. Gorman calls that support a critical bridge to higher student achievement.

The superintendent is reluctant to divulge details before he formally unveils the project, but CMS officials have previously said they hope to team with community organizations to offer GED classes and courses in technology, literacy and math.

Courses could be offered at little or no charge at schools, libraries, houses of worship, businesses, government offices and nonprofit organizations.

“Some of our parents need a little assistance,” Gorman said, “and we want to provide it.”

Carrie Gibson, a former assistant superintendent for Union County's schools, feels so strongly about getting parents involved that she is helping a community group in west Charlotte put on parent-involvement workshops this fall.

She said parents sometimes don't help more because they don't know how. Sometimes they feel unwelcome at school, despite the best efforts of teachers and principals.

“Sometimes, they don't know the right questions,” Gibson said. They should ask about test scores, the frequency of parent conferences, even the teacher's professional background.

Ultimately, she said, schools can educate children, even if parents don't show up.

“But think how much better things would be,” she said, “if that parent is there supporting and embracing the educational system.”

Related stories from Charlotte Observer