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PRESS RELEASE: NET to air program on the importance of parental engagement in educational achievement

For Immediate Release
Encouraging Parents to Engage in Their Children’s Learning Is Aug. 15 ‘State of Education in Nebraska’ Topic

LINCOLN, Neb. (July 30, 2013) -- Research supports what common sense has always told us --parents play a critical role in their children’s education. But what is parent engagement and how can it be encouraged?

The August episode of NET’s series “The State of Education in Nebraska” looks at community efforts designed to build parent engagement. “The Challenge of Parent Engagement” airs Thursday, Aug. 15, at 8 p.m. CT on NET2 World.

Parent engagement is more than supervising homework, attending activities or volunteering, said Susan Sheridan, director of the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Families, Youth and Schools at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While those activities are important, Sheridan said parent engagement is a broader concept that involves parents, other key caregivers and schools in collaborative decision-making and problem-solving with a focus on each child’s individual needs and goals.

“It’s a two-way relationship that is built on trust and respect,” said Sheridan, who is a George Holmes professor of educational psychology at UNL. “It is goal-oriented and a lot harder than just showing up. It requires folks to come to the table willing to contribute their best thoughts and ideas about how to best help children to achieve. And it’s a very active process.”

When parents are involved in their children’s education, student attendance increases; student attitudes and achievements improve; and discipline problems decrease. This is true regardless of a family’s socio-economic status, education level or cultural background. Working as partners, parents and schools can maximize strengths, develop strategies and reinforce each other’s efforts to help children succeed.

Sheridan notes that over a child’s school career, the teachers, principals and schools change, but the child’s parents and other family members remain constant. “The research is really very clear that this family piece is critical in the positive outcomes for kids,” said Sheridan, whose research in parent engagement has won national acclaim. “Learning is a fluid process and out-of-school time is an important influence on learning.”

During the hour-long program, Sheridan will moderate a conversation among educators, including Rik Devney, principal of Lincoln’s Huntington Elementary School; Josie Filipi, a parent liaison officer for Crete Public Schools; Joanne Garson, parent outreach specialist with the Grand Island Health Department’s Families and Schools Together program; and Fawn Taylor, director of Omaha’s Building Bright Futures Early Childhood initiative. The program also will feature a taped interview with Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and First Lady Sally Ganem.

“The Challenge of Parent Engagement” will repeat on NET2 World on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 2 p.m. CT; Thursday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m. CT; and Sunday, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m. CT.

The “State of Education in Nebraska” is a two-year initiative led by NET Learning Services and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. A statewide transmedia effort, “State of Education in Nebraska” examines issues and connects Nebraskans to the important role that innovative school-community partnerships can have on improving student achievement.

For more information, visit to view previous programs and find resources.

NET2 World is part of NET Television, a service of NET. For a complete program schedule, visit NET’s website (

CONTACT: Marthaellen Florence, NET director of community engagement and educational outreach, 402-470-6603 or
RELEASE WRITTEN BY: Kim Hachiya, 402-472-9333, ext. 694, or e-mail at

NET Television:
NET1 is Nebraska's first public television broadcast service and includes PBS and award-winning, locally produced public television programming; NET2 World offers live coverage of the Nebraska Unicameral, and other news and public affairs programming; NET3 Create features the most popular how-to, travel and lifestyle series; and NET-HD presents high-definition digital broadcast programming displayed in a wide-screen format.

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