By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – At PS 85 in New York City, 96% of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, 25% have special needs and a third are learning English as a second language. Last fall, Mercy College, with professors donating their time, opened the Bronx Parent Center to help student achievement.

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Offering workshops on technology, math and second language instruction, dealing with special needs and parent leadership, the Center has become a vehicle for helping migrant families with cultural hurdles that impede their relationships with schools. As principal Ted Husted puts it, “We’re not only asking them to help with their kids….but how we can help them.”

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A priority will be to track academic performance and behavior of students whose parents are actively participating to monitor the program’s effectiveness.

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Karla Scoon Reid in Education Week, quotes Anne Foster of Parents for Public Schools, “Parent engagement is a the most neglected school reform strategy, yet it’s the one that makes the most sense.”