Monday, May 28, 2012



           One of my Facebook friends recently posted a picture of her three year old daughter’s artwork.  Her comment read: “My daughter colors inside the black lines PERFECT…she's still 3 years old...Remember that.”  While my mantra is, “Until further notice…celebrate everything,” my stomach dropped just a bit when I scanned the word “PERFECT.”

            I clearly recall being a young stay-at-home momma who was driven by perfectionism.  Frankly, my behavior was borderline obsessive compulsive.  My home was cleaned from the basement to the bedroom level, the laundry was washed, dried, and put away, and every single toy and wooden block was in its rightful place.  In short, everything was perfect.
            Unfortunately, this mentality spilled over into my role as a homeschooler.  So, by the time my son was two years old, he was legibly writing his name, alphabets, and numbers, counting to 100, had mastered his shapes, address, and telephone number,  and…yes…coloring inside the lines.  Anything short of this, I felt, was a poor reflection on him and his family.

            It would be years before I realized that I was disillusioned and had no clue of what true learning entailed.  In fact, my mission to present this “perfect” picture had everything to do with pleasing the masses versus instilling sound educational principles into my children.   I fed into the lie that if my children did not reach various milestones outlined in those infant, baby, and toddler books that I was missing the mark. 

            In her article “The Pitfalls of Perfectionism,” Jennifer Drapkin, a writer for, pointed out a few pitfalls to perfectionism:

  1. Perfectionists never feel satisfied.
  2. Perfectionist cannot tolerate flaws.
  3. Perfectionists lead a life of continual anxiety and fear of failure.
  4. Perfectionists feel as though the world expects them to be impeccable.

            As a result of my behavior, my children began to display some of the traits listed above.  Erasers were used incessantly and crumpled sheets of paper filled my trash bins.  The straw that broke the camels back was when one of my sons said he felt stupid because he did not understand a math concept.  I knew then I had to stop the madness.

            It’s been many years since I’ve lived the life of a perfectionist.  The major shift in my behavior has fostered a more tolerant mindset in my children.  They are not hard on themselves anymore and have learned to embrace both their style of learning and overall achievements.  As Jennifer stated in her article, we all have learned to accept our flaws and live a more loving and satisfying life.

Kimberly K. Parker is the President and CEO of Writing Momma Publishing, LLC. ( To date, she has written three books and has helped nine children between the ages of nine and nineteen write and publish books of their own.  This summer, she is offering “The Ultimate Writing Experience!”  For more information visit and click on Writing Programs.  Kimberly is a professional writer, author, publisher, and blogger living in Maryland with her husband and three children.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Congratulations to Mrs. Barbara Fisher, 2012 JoAnne L. Carter Memorial Award Winner

The staff of Parental Engagement with PGCPS, Parents and PGCPS, its supporters and members congratulate Mrs. Barbara Fisher on being awarded the 2012 JoAnne L. Carter Memorial Award in recognition of her involvement with Carrollton Elementary School.
Barbara Fisher
Prince George’s County
Parents and PGCPS Members since 2010
Statement from MSDE:
Barbara Fisher of Prince George’s County, was presented with the JoAnne L. Carter Memorial Award in recognition of her involvement with Carrollton Elementary School.  This award is given annually in honor of JoAnne L. Carter, Deputy State Superintendent for the Maryland State Department of Education, who lost her battle with cancer in 2009.  A parent herself, Ms. Carter was a staunch advocate for parental involvement in education. The award is given annually to a parent that exemplifies all that she held dear. 
The Parent Involvement Matters Awards is the nation’s first and only statewide award program of its kind.  The Maryland State Department of Education’s program recognizes parents and guardians for their exceptional support of public education.  Parents were nominated for demonstrating significant, positive impact in their communities across five areas of parental involvement: Communication, Volunteering, Learning, Decision Making and Community Collaboration.

Visit Parents and PGCPS at:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Parent Talk Live Discusses PGCPS with Dr. William R. Hite, Jr

Dr. William R. Hite, Jr.
Prince George’s County Public Schools

Dr. William R. Hite, Jr. was named Superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) on April 3, 2009, by the Prince George’s County Board of Education, after serving as Interim Superintendent since December 1, 2008.  In June 2006, Dr. Hite was hired as Deputy Superintendent of PGCPS, Maryland’s second largest school system and the 18th largest system in the nation. During his tenure, he focused on student access and educational equity to ensure that all students graduate college-and work-ready. 

Parent Talk Live: Hosted by: Dr. Mike Robinson
Guest: Dr. William Hite, Jr. Superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools
Subject: Prince George’s County Public Schools
Air Date: June 3, 2012
Time: 8:30pm
Call in Number: (646) 716-5649
Twitter Questions  
Facebook Questions:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mrs. Nikki Guy-Dixon Talks About The Reasons, Facts and Challenges of Becoming a Home School Parent

Parent Talk Live
Hosted by
Parent Talk Live host Dr. Mike Robinson will discussed Home Schooling with a former educator who has turned home school parent. Listen to this interesting discussion regarding the reasons, facts and challenges of becoming a home school parent with Dr. Robinson and his guest Mrs. Nikki Guy-Dixon.
 Nikki Guy-Dixon is the wife of Terence Dixon and the mother of four beautiful children (Mackenzie, Sydney, Kennedy, and Terence Jr.). She is a former Maryland public school teacher turned home school mom and entrepreneur.  Nikki is a graduate of the Prince George’s County Public School system. She holds a dual degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Maryland University College.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Parental Minimization Is Not An Effective Parental Engagement Strategy

Dr. Mike Robinson

Perhaps my ambition to see an educational system where parents, teachers and school administrators are in partnership for the academic success of all students is more a dream that a possibility. Over the past several decades, research and a myriad of news reports have reflected on the value of parental engagement, while at the same time criticizing the lack of parental involvement. The benefits of parental engagement are well researched and documented.

This argument is juxtaposed to the increase bashing of teachers and their unions which have reached epic levels. Efforts to silence, marginalize, and destroy teacher unions have dominated news headlines for the past several years. The apex of such actions having taken place in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker worked tirelessly to break his state’s unions to include teacher unions, by dismantling collective bargaining rights for state employees.  Governor Walker’s actions are just a drop in the bucket of the methods used to eliminate inclusion and engagement among a specific constituent base. However, these methods pale in comparison to those used to eradicate the position of parents and families when it comes to the educational systems in America.

The systemic efforts by a variety of entities to silence and completely eliminate the voices of parents who are striving to have an authentic role in the academic lives of their children have been shameful at their least to bordering on outright violations of one’s civil rights at their worst.  Parents are typically bashed by the media for their lack of engagement in the lives of their children. Reports describing the lack of parental involvement are seldom based on any long term studies; typically suggesting a vast majority of parents, just awake in the morning and after a large steamy cup of narcissism send their children off to public schools to be raised by teachers and school administrators and if time permits the teachers are welcome to educate their children.

Once the media has finished, teachers, school administrators and civic leaders pile on; many offer assertions regarding parental involvement within the schools with little statistical data to support their claims. Seldom does one hear or read of the variety of ways in which schools attempt to engage parents/families prior to proclaiming parents just do not want to be involved, because they do not attend Back to school night, PTA meetings or a Parent Teacher Conference.

When you hear of the great successes taking place in schools and overall in school districts, one can rest assured there is a strong and healthy relationship between home and school. Families and school personnel are working on the same page. In these successful models of high achieving schools and school districts, parents have a voice in school leadership.  When parents are used as allies, teachers and administrators have a new found freedom to speak openly and frankly about student performance.  While there are many examples of such effective relationships that have turned poor performing schools into beacons of student achievement, the sad fact is the number of school districts that do not have or even desire to have a strong relationship with parents are driving the negative discussion about parent involvement.

Dr. Mavis Sanders, a renowned researcher, scholar and author in the area of parental engagement and more specifically the relationships between communities and schools, stated that if schools really want an effective parental engagement environment, they will have it, if they do not want a parental engagement program in their system, they will not have it.  Dr. Sanders’ statement is powerful, as it professes school districts either desire to have parents in their schools or they do not.

Certain school districts use a myriad of methods, techniques and systems to control parents as they continue to drive a message that parents do not understand. The leadership within this type of school system is well versed in creating communication systems which pretend to offer two-way communication. However, the reality is these systems are riddled with hidden layers that contain a culture which states to parents “you do not understand education and to some extent parenting itself”. Many of these schools have suggested and championed laws that would criminalize aspect of engagement, specifically those they have defined types of engagement they want parents to perform as the true forms of parental involvement.

Failure to attend a PTA meeting or missing a Parent Teacher conference is being considered violations of the law. Failing to fit into a mode which is typically narrowly defined by schools regarding parental engagement could have incarceration as a consequence.  There are now States advocating schools actually grade parents as to their level of involvement. Yet these same systems cringe at the thought of having parents’ grade teachers or that an educator’s evaluation is attached to their student achievement.

Parental Minimization can result in parents, families and community stakeholders becoming frustrated, confused, angered and disillusioned about their community school. The results of such efforts are dramatic, parents and communities become disengaged, they reduce their level of involvement with their school district and in extreme cases, parents seek to find alternative educational opportunities. This is defined as “Give Out”, a process by which parents seek to remove their children away from a school system that is simply not friendly to parents and students. The ultimate result of parental minimization is declining enrollment and an increase in low performing schools.

Next week: How Parental Minimization and the lack of student achievement drives the desire for home schooling or parent directed education.

 Dr. Mike Robinson is the creator of the National Men Make A Difference Day for Student Success and the host of Parent Talk Live. Dr. Robinson is a leading voice/expert on parental engagement and community outreach in education. He is also the CO- CEO of Forest Of The Rain Productions, an Internet communication company, whose mission is to expand the voices in and about education.

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