By Teachers, For Teachers
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and first lady Sally Ganem on Wednesday urged the state's parents to become more involved in their children's education, with the Republican governor proclaiming August as "Parental Involvement in Education Month" in Nebraska.
Ganem, a former elementary school principal, joined Heineman for a news conference in Lincoln to encourage parents to do such things as read to their children, set high academic expectations for them and meet with teachers.
"You are your child's first and most important teacher," Ganem said. "Research has shown over and over again, children achieve higher grades, test scores and graduation rates go up, there's better school attendance, increased motivation, better self-esteem, lower rates of suspension, decreased use of drugs and alcohol, and fewer instances of violent behavior ... where there is more parental involvement."
Heineman's hope is that the state will spark a national movement of parental involvement in childhood education. He said involvement doesn't mean parents have to become experts in math and science; everyday interaction and small teaching moments are key, he said, recalling his own efforts when his now-grown son, Sam, was a child.
"We would go to the local retail store to buy something, and I would challenge him to figure out the amount of money I was going to get back for that purchase and see if he could do it before the clerk did," Heineman said.
The couple also highlighted the work of the Nebraska Community Learning Center Network, a statewide public-private partnership that promotes school-community collaborations and supports community learning centers that operate during the non-school hours.
The network will present activities at this month's Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island focused on the application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — commonly referred to as STEM courses.
"STEM education opportunities will be everywhere," Heineman said. "Near the food, rides, exhibits, agriculture performance areas — even in the parking lot."
Heineman office also noted that an episode of Nebraska Educational Telecommunications' series "The State of Education in Nebraska" will focus on parental involvement and feature an interview with Heineman and Ganem. The episode, titled "The Challenge of Parent Engagement," airs Aug. 15.