In 2001 the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was passed and Title I received reauthorization. This legislative act created many changes in Title I policy and practice. A very critical component of the new law stipulated that a portion of funds received by state and local districts were to be focused on Parent/Family Engagement. In compliance with Federal mandate and recognizing that family engagement in the academic experiences of students is critical to student success, the Clark County School District Title I Department, in collaboration with United Way, set aside funds for the creation of one Title I Family Engagement Center at Ruby Thomas Elementary School. The success of that first center resulted in the creation of seven additional centers that focused not only on providing parents and families with the opportunity to learn how to prepare their children for kindergarten but also on opportunities to become more involved in the academic achievement of their children. Over the years, and with continued support from community resources and District departments, the eight Title I Family Engagement Centers provided a model for parent and family engagement and a framework for fulfilling a critical service to Title I families. This model was recognized as a valued asset to the families living within the attendance areas of the eight schools. However, the need for extending family learning opportunities to engage in the academic achievement of students throughout the District became apparent to all involved. But, how? The answer to that question came in with the form of a new District initiative.
In the 2013-2014 school year, Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky and the Board of School Trustees announced the District’s “next level of strategy to ensure the success of …316,000 students,” known as the Pledge of Achievement. As part of the District’s strategic plan toward attaining the goals in the Pledge of Achievement, Mr. Skorkowsky initiated his plan to establish the Clark County School District Family and Community Engagement Services Department (FACES). One vital purpose of FACES was to specifically focus on a strategic target that would “increase the number of organized, effective parent trainings” and to “increase parent involvement in those trainings.” With the National PTA Standards for Family-School Engagement as the implementation guide to assist with the development of parent/family trainings and focusing on District initiatives, FACES was charged with creating and implementing the University of Family Learning (UFL). The common purpose of FACES and the experienced Title I staff, available materials, and established relationships with parents and families at the eight established school sites provided a framework for the successful implementation of the UFL in January of 2015. Twenty (20) courses of study focused on Parents as Teaching Partners, Navigating the School System, Parent Leadership, and Family Wellness and Development. Three-hundred fifty (350) adult participants were registered and sixty-nine completed at least fifty hours of coursework. The first annual Ceremony of Achievement recognized the accomplishments of those participants.
It is with great excitement and anticipation that in the 2015-2016 school year, the UFL will be expanding to four additional schools and will provide over thirty-four (34) course offerings. Utilizing established relationships with community partners and the expertise of the Project Facilitators, Teacher Family Assistants, and school staffs and administrators, the UFL will provide increased educational opportunities for parents and families in all seven Trustee Districts.