Committing to better education

In the upcoming school year, students, parents and teachers in the Carson City School District will be asked to sign an agreement pledging to improve education.

The Educational Involvement Accord, passed during the 2005 Nevada Legislature and sponsored by the Nevada Department of Education, will take effect this fall.

"I think almost every educator would agree with the statement that education starts in the home," said Carson High School math teacher Jennifer Tartan. "This is a great way to make the point to parents and students that everybody needs to be working on their education."

Homeroom teachers of upper-level students will be asked to sign the pledge.

One aspect of the accord that Tartan likes is that parents verify their children's homework is complete. While advanced math homework may look like a foreign language to some, at least parents can ask to see it instead of just getting an affirmation, she said.

"(This is) a good direction our district is taking," Tartan said. "Our kids are never going to succeed without the support of our parents at home."

The educational involvement accord will be sent home with elementary school students in folders. It will arrive via newsletter to the parents of older district students. The district will follow up with reminders, but there are no ramifications for not signing or returning the document.

"I think this is the Legislature's attempt to draw parent's attention to the school-home partnership," said Dr. Mary Pierczynski, superintendent for the Carson City School District. "I think there will be a lot of parents who will read it. I think many of them will sign it."

Already, parents of students in at-risk schools are asked to sign a similar compact. Pierczynski said the rate of return is high on those forms, although there are a few parents who refuse. The accord will replace the at-risk compact.

"Parents and guardians want their kids to be successful in school," Pierczynski said. "I don't know of anyone who doesn't want their child to be successful in school. When they look at this accord, parents will have to admit these are common-sense things that need to be done for their children to be successful."

By signing the accord, both parents and students commit to arriving on time to school.

"Attendance at school is a key issue to a child's success," Pierczynski said. "If they're not here, they can't learn. If you look at our students who are struggling, many of them who are struggling most have an attendance problem as well. Coming to school on a regular basis is very important. And with No Child Left Behind, that's one of the things we have to monitor closely."

Tartan said she initially saw the compact as another thing on an already long list of things for teachers to do. Then she realized the accord would benefit her students.

"I think this is one of those things that comes from a good place," she said. "If it comes from a good idea and from a good place, it could lead to better things. We're not asking for anything. We're asking for parents to do their job and for teachers to do their job and for kids to do their job."

• Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at or 881-1219.

Contract specifics

Parents, students and teachers will be asked to sign The Educational Involvement Accord. There is no penalty for not signing.

Parents will agree to:

• Read to their child or encourage reading

• Be responsible for children's on-time attendance

• Review and check their child's homework

• Monitor the activities of their children, like how much time is spent watching television, using a computer or playing video games

• Contribute at least five hours of time in school-related activities, like parent-teacher conferences, volunteering, chaperoning, attending meetings or communicating with teachers about student progress.

Students will agree to:

• Arrive at school each day on time and prepared

• Show effort, respect, cooperation and fairness to all

• Use all school equipment and property appropriately and safely

• Complete and submit homework in a timely manner

• Read each day before or after school

Teachers will agree to:

• Ensure each student is provided high-quality curriculum and instruction

• Maximize the education and social experience of students

• Seek the best interest of each student

• Provide frequent reports to parents on student progress


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