08/30/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The New Economic Stimulus Package for Education: Parent Power

As American families prepare for Back to School season amidst the
Great Recession -- when family, school and state budgets are tighter
than ever -- there is a silver lining: parents.

With their profound ability to influence their children's academic
success and contribute to their children's schools, parents may well
be the new economic stimulus package for education in America.

Parents are the first teachers of the nation's nearly 55 million
school-age children and research clearly shows that many of these
students' foundational skills and attitudes toward learning have
already been shaped by the time they get to kindergarten. Many studies
also show that parents have at least as much impact on their
children's academic success as teachers do.

As President Obama often reminds American parents:

"There is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will
attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with the homework, or
turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child.
Responsibility for our children's education must begin at home."

Responsibility can begin now -- with Back to School drawing near, now
is the perfect time for parents to commit to greater involvement in
their children's education. Supporting your kids' education doesn't
even have to take much time, or any money. Read with your children for
20 minutes a day, visit their teachers and devote whatever time you
can to volunteering at their schools and it will make a huge

Now more than ever, parents are a pivotal factor in ensuring that our
kids are prepared for higher education, work and life. Even in a down
economy, the power of involved parents can help insure that budget
woes won't impair kids' educational success and infuse our children
and schools with the benefits of parent capital.

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