Education Dept. Tells Parents to Go After $6-Million School Improvement Grants

By Susan Jones | January 14, 2011 | 9:50am EST

The U.S. Education Department posted a brochure on its Web site explaining how parents with children in low-performing school can prod those schools to go after federal School Improvement Grants worth up to $6-million per school. (Photo from U.S. Education Department Web Site)

( - "You don’t have to accept underperforming schools," the U.S. Education Department is telling parents in a new publication.

If your child’s school needs “a fresh start,” parents should prod school officials to apply for a federal School Improvement Grant.

"Up to $6 million per school in new federal funds can help transform your child’s education!" says the full-color brochure posted on the Education Department's Web site.

The message, offered in both English and Spanish, is aimed at "committed and involved parents," and it urges them to work with school officials to "turn low-performing schools into models of educational excellence."

The grants are available to the nation’s lowest-performing schools. While parents are encouraged to prod school officials, school superintendents are the ones who must apply for the money. Schools receiving the grants must be willing to “make dramatic changes” involving school leadership and teaching.

The Education Department said schools are choosing to use their grant money in different ways:  “Some are lengthening the school day, and offering tutoring, mentoring and other services after school to help students. Some are hiring new teachers to provide additional services. Some are partnering with community agencies to provide the health care and social supports that will help students thrive in the classroom. Each school has flexibility to design specific reforms that will work best for its students.”

“Demand excellence. Your child deserves a great education,” the Education Department says.

The brochure directs parents to the Education Department’s Web site, which has specific details about the school improvement program as well as examples of schools that have turned themselves around.

“Work with other parents to support and help shape the changes in your school,” the department advises.

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