'People For' Joins NAACP, Kodak and Ad Council to Launch Campaign to Spur Parent Involvement in Public Schools

Effort Seen as Largest Outreach Ever Geared to African American, Hispanic Parents; Research on Parents, Recent Test Scores Underscore Campaign's Urgency

WASHINGTON - Backed by studies showing that parents are perhaps the single greatest factor in their children's educational success, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) joined Eastman Kodak Company and the Advertising Council today to announce next month's launch of the most extensive nationwide media and grassroots organizing campaign ever aimed at encouraging Black and Latino parents to become more deeply involved in their children's education.

The unprecedented three-year campaign will carry the theme of "Success in School Equals Success in Life." Public service advertisements on television and radio-complemented by ads in newspapers and on billboards, kiosks and mass transit facilities-will begin in September. The broadcast and display ads, created pro bono by UniWorld, Inc., will reach at least 25,000 media outlets across the country. The average Ad Council campaign receives $39 million per year in donated media time and space.

In addition to using the national ad campaign to raise awareness about the role of parents, the four partners in this effort are planning regional and local activities to inform and mobilize both parents and communities to strengthen their public schools.

For PFAWF and the NAACP, the campaign builds on a close relationship that was further enhanced in 1997 when the two organizations formed Partners for Public Education. Partners for Public Education serves as a vehicle to energize citizens and communities to strengthen and improve public schools.

"From our earliest days as an organization, we've tried to break down barriers and work to ensure that all Americans have an equal opportunity in life. When you talk about opportunity, all roads lead to education," said PFAWF President Ralph G. Neas. "Through our Partners for Public Education activities, we saw how inequities in the quality of education were reflected in many urban public schools. We also saw the genuine desire of these parents to improve the kind of education their children receive. Our challenge is to show parents what they can do to make a real difference in their children's future."

"Equality in the American public education system is a cornerstone issue for the NAACP," said NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume. "As vanguards of equal opportunity, the NAACP believes that one of the steps toward attaining equality in this country is to achieve success in school. By getting more parents involved in their children's education, this new ad campaign shows that success is attainable both in school and life."

The campaign's ads will offer parents a toll-free number (1-800-281-1313) to call for more information. The four campaign partners also have designed a Web site to help support the goals of the media campaign and will add resources and new links to the site, as well as update information over the course of the three-year effort. The Web site is: www.SchoolSuccessInfo.org.

Kodak, the exclusive corporate sponsor of the campaign, has generously provided a $1.2 million grant to cover the costs of production and distribution of the campaign's broadcast and print ads. "Kodak has a long history of supporting education and diversity," said Daniel A. Carp, Kodak's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "In today's global marketplace, it is critical that all of us encourage the development of a workforce that is ready to compete. Parents can play an integral role in helping address this issue."

Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Advertising Council, said "The education of our children is of paramount concern to the American people and our research consistently indicates that the best way to improve a child's education is through greater parental involvement. With this campaign, the Ad Council welcomes the opportunity to provide African American and Hispanic parents with the tools they need to maximize their children's educational experience. We know that the media and advertising industries are equally committed to helping parents and are confident that they will support the campaign with significant pro bono resources."

The "Success in School Equals Success in Life" campaign was developed largely because of the research that has consistently demonstrated the critical role that parents perform in helping their children succeed in school. The campaign is made more urgent by national math scores released earlier this month by the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). Student scores on NAEP math tests have shown overall improvement among all racial and ethnic groups. However, since 1990, the achievement gap between Hispanic and white students either increased or remained the same for all three grade levels measured (fourth, eighth and 12th grades). The math achievement gap between African American and white students also rose or held steady in all three grade levels.

This achievement gap adds to concerns that Black and Latino parents have about the quality of education their children are receiving. Many of the public schools that African American and Hispanic children attend are among the most challenged due to aging schools and other infrastructure problems, limited resources, and overcrowded classrooms-factors that heighten the need for parents to be actively involved.

Spurred by the strong evidence that parental involvement has a major impact, school officials in many cities and communities have begun to take additional steps to engage parents more directly in their children's education. In May, for example, the New York City public schools sent surveys to the parents of 125,000 school children, seeking to learn how well parents are treated when they visit schools, whether they're satisfied with their children's principals, and to gain other insights.

Click here to visit the campaign's website.

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