ALEXANDRIA, VA. (May 16, 2011)- The decision made within the U.S. Department of Education to eliminate funding for the Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) program, the only funding stream dedicated to family engagement in education, is a mistake. On behalf of our more than five million members, comprised of parents, students, teachers, and advocates, National PTA® is disappointed in the decision to effectively eliminate this important program.
Every year PIRCs serve more than 16 million parents and families – more than 75% of whom are low income. At a time when states and districts face increasingly tight budgets, the role of PIRCs couldn't be more vital. Parents and school districts everywhere rely on PIRCs services to increase and improve communication between schools and families. The Program has met or exceeded each of the six Department of Education’s performance measures in the latest report for engaging parents. Meeting these performance measures means this is a program that is working.
PIRCs provide capacity-building and technical assistance to state educational agencies and local school districts to engage all families in education and improve student achievement. It is an effective, proven program that leverages Federal investment by assisting in effective implementation of Title I dollars dedicated to parent and family engagement.
PIRCs survived rounds of Congressional spending cuts, only to be eliminated at the discretion of the Department of Education. Just months ago Department officials received volumes of public support for a proposed waiver and extension of project period for PIRC grantees, which would have allowed the continuation of services. Yet, the program was still cut despite vocal opposition from Members of Congress, national advocacy organizations, states, school districts, and parents and families.
This process has been disingenuous and again, the decision to eliminate program funding is a mistake. Voluntary defunding of PIRCs sends the absolute wrong message by this Administration if they are serious about partnering with parents.
National PTA considers the U.S. Department of Education a partner in working to ensure quality education for all children. While we look forward to continuing that partnership, we are hopeful that the Department will reexamine this decision and work with PTA on program improvements and the reinstatement of PIRC funding in Fiscal Year 2012.
About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.
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