Supporting Parents through the Change: Answering tough questions, engaging for partnership

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
–George Bernard Shaw

In “Support Parents through the Change,” an afternoon session led by Ken Slentz, the Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education at NYSED, the discussion was about the challenge in externalizing and communicating the changes that were discussed earlier. Slentz said communicating with parents is one of NYSED’s core values.

“Graduating ALL students, making sure they’re college- and career-ready is our core value and primary goal,” he said. “There is urgency in providing equitable education to EVERY student in NYS. There is a disconnect between what we expect from our kids now and what we NEED to expect.”


1. Implementing the Common Core- explain why and that it is state-based

2. New Assessments based on CCLS- explain the need

3. Online Learning and Assessments in the future- efficiency

4. Teacher and Principal Evaluation for all Districts- assess if/how students are meeting the standards and use the data to inform instruction and PD

5. Priority and Focus Designations and Diagnostic Tool for School and District Effectiveness (DTSDE) visits- determine health and vitality of schools

6. Dignity for All Students- ensure students and teachers have a safe and healthy learning environment.

7. Response to Intervention- first do a full in-class diagnosis of a student before making referrals

8. Tax Cap- we have to change the current antiquated system

The Message:

  • Identify your audiences and differentiate your message.
  • Identify avenues for communicating your message- utilize social media!
  • Identify parties responsible for communicating the message.
  • Identify the content of the message.
  • Identify the impact of the message.

Your district mission statement should clearly identify your goals, preferably including the eight perspectives listed above. Additionally, the district strategic plan should be continuously altered to drive reflection, analysis, and action towards achieving your mission. Districts also need to have a district communication plan, a mass communication service, and a way to measure the impact of your communications.

Participants looked at communicating a message through the lens of a CEO of a publicly traded company. How would your communications change? Communication should be short, focused, talk about your core values, showcase the children, focus on current and future highlights (college performance), and inform why/how decisions are made.

The Toolkit for Parents and Families and full presentations for download can be found on Differentiate the professional development to help districts meet their populations.