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Parent Centers Need Freedom to Develop

October 09, 1994

In the last several years, more than 70 parent centers have developed in the Los Angeles public schools. They are unique and in varying stages of development, representing the various communities and needs of the parents and families as they evolve from the grass roots up. According to your article "Unwelcome Support" (Aug. 24), LAUSD feels parent centers should be expanded to all schools and standardized so that they are alike.

The Los Angeles Resource Connection is an advocacy group for families and children at risk in California. Our research has led us to many of these family centers, where over two years we have observed and interviewed parents, teachers, principals and social service agencies. We are convinced that parent centers empower parents and this empowerment leads directly to an improvement in the academic and social success of their children and to improved behavior.

This success is precisely because they are unique and meet the needs of families. Each center expands its programs as more parents are attracted and they in turn empower each other. The beauty of this is that children are benefiting because the whole family is positively involved at school. Standardization would be unwise and counterproductive.

We enthusiastically support the idea of all schools having parent centers, and the dissemination of information to every parent is a great idea. But if the LAUSD will study the results of these gems that already exist in the district, especially in the San Fernando Valley, it will have to conclude that they should expand and build on what they have already. This would be consistent with the district's enthusiastic adoption of the LEARN program and the state's charter school movement.

If parent involvement is really desired, let's give it a real chance.

FRAN DIAMOND

LINDA LUCKS

Los Angeles Resource Connection

Encino

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