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Editorial: Portals put parents into the education equation

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When used correctly, a “parent portal” can be an important tool for student success.

When used correctly.

It can also be a frustrating bureaucratic dead-end if not updated accordingly, requires parents to be engaged enough to log on, and can bring out the micromanager in even the best-intentioned parents.

But when used correctly, it can bring parents into the education equation, keeping them abreast of their children’s successes and challenges so they can support academic success.

Gov. Susana Martinez and New Mexico education chief Hanna Skandera are absolutely correct to try to drag all of New Mexico’s K-12 schools into the digital age via parent portals that supply student grades, homework assignments, class announcements, attendance records, teacher email addresses and more.

In fact, systems similar to their proposed “New Mexico Parent Connection” are already online at Albuquerque charter schools, with mixed reviews that have prompted the above caveats. Some of the existing portals also include the important component of student access, which allows children and teens the opportunity to double-check what work is due and take responsibility for what grades they are getting.

When portal information is updated in a timely fashion, and when parents use it to guide their students to academic success, then Skandera is right that it’s “a great tool to have” to counter the top concern from educators that “they need ways to engage parents.”

The governor also points out that “research shows children with involved parents have better social skills, higher grades and enroll in harder classes, regardless of socioeconomic background. This is important for a place like New Mexico.”

It is. As such, lawmakers should give its modest $1.2 million appropriation serious consideration when the 2014 Legislature convenes and give parents a way to log in to their children’s education.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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