RELEASE: METLIFE FOUNDATION AND FAMILIES AND WORK INSTITUTE
ANNOUNCE EXCITING NEW INITIATIVE TO HELP UNITE STUDENTS, TEACHERS
AND PARENTS AROUND LEARNING
The MetLife Foundation
Connecting Communities for Learning Project
Will Honor Communities That Have Strengthened the Connections
between Students, Teachers and Parents
Project To Use Youth Voices to Publish
Guides and Best Practices For Supporting Student Success in
Communities throughout America
New York, August 16, 2001-In response to findings
from the most recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher,
MetLife Foundation and
Families and Work Institute (FWI) have created a new initiative
designed to address the troubling lack of connection between
teachers, parents and students, The MetLife Foundation
Connecting Communities For Learning Project.
MetLife has published its survey of education-related issues
annually since 1984. The most recent survey found that adults
have much lower expectations for students' success than students
do. For example, while 60 percent of secondary students are
confident that they will achieve their goals for the future,
only 52 percent of parents and 19 percent of teachers of children
this age share that same confidence. Likewise, while 71 percent
of secondary students plan to attend a four-year college,
only 52 percent of parents and 32 percent of teachers of children
this age hold the same expectation for these young people.
The MetLife Foundation Connecting Communities For Learning
Project will honor between four and ten communities across
America that have found innovative ways to strengthen the
connection between students, teachers and parents. The award
will include a cash grant designed to allow these communities
to take further steps in support of student success.
Says Sibyl Jacobson, President and CEO, MetLife Foundation,
"America's young people are an untapped resource for community
improvement and change. We are delighted to partner with Families
and Work Institute to recognize communities that bring young
people from diverse backgrounds and with a variety of interests
into their civic, social and economic dialogue and decision
making. By giving youth a seat at the table, they become invested
in positive social change and develop their skills as leaders
The project will take place in two phases over 12 months.
In Phase I, MetLife Foundation and FWI will produce a range
of products, including a "Discussion Starter" video that frames
key findings from the MetLife study and explores students'
reactions to the findings; a "Student Voices" booklet that
profiles students who have taken steps to improve their schools;
a "Parents and Teachers Working Together" booklet of
strategies that can help parents and teachers support each
other to enhance student learning; and a Communications,
Learning and Action network and e-mail distribution list of
individuals and organizations that care about these issues.
In Phase II, the project will select and honor communities
that have demonstrated their commitment to engaging students,
parents, schools and community resources to unite parents
and teachers in support of student learning and achievement.
Action grants will be awarded to each of these communities
to further their exemplary work. Communities chosen will become
part of a network that will provide ongoing support and assistance.
Says President and Co-founder of Families and Work Institute,
Ellen Galinsky, "There are many understandable reasons why
parents, students, and teachers do not always unite to support
students. However, studies reveal that much is known about
how to improve the connections among these groups in ways
that truly help students learn. Here are a few strategies
for ways you can do this in your community:"
Studies do show that students are more likely to thrive in
school if they have someone who cares about their progress
and supports their interests. And according to studies, the
ability to generate multiple solutions to problems is a skill
that will last a lifetime. So students can:
� Seek out someone at school who is "there for you."
Whether it is a teacher, coach or someone who works in the
school office, you will do better at school if you know that
someone really cares about you and wants you to succeed.
� Find something in your school work that interests
you and find out more about it. Share your interest and enthusiasm
with your parents and teachers.
� If you have a problem with a teacher or your parent
about school, try to avoid fighting about it. Ask them to
please listen to how you feel without interrupting (like they
do on TV shows). Then ask them for ALL of the ideas they have
that could make things better. There may be one idea that
Tips for Teachers
Families and Work Institute has conducted a number of studies
on parent-teacher relationships and has found that some tension
between parents and teachers is inevitable. In today's world,
the job of teacher can be stressful and so can the job of
parent. The challenge is to turn it from destructive to constructive
tension. To do so, teachers can:
� Understand your expectations. If you are upset at
a parent, inevitably there is an expectation you have that
hasn't come true-whether it is that a parent should show more
interest in a child's work or should be able to get off from
work to go on a field trip. Think about what you are expecting
and ask yourself if it is realistic or not. If not, then try
to change your expectation to be more realistic.
� Accept diversity. The greater the difference between
parent and teacher demographically, the more likely it is
that there will be tension. The friction between you may be
legitimate or may occur because people from different backgrounds
have different (but just as good) ways of doing things.
� Get support. It would be wonderful if every school
had one person who took on the role of being a "parent expert,"
someone you could go to when you are having problems with
parents. That person could support you and help you find ways
to resolve your differences. In the absence of your school
having someone like this, find someone on your own.
Tips for Parents
Studies from FWI show that the best relationships with teachers
occur when the parent respects the job of teacher and sees
the school as a resource for them and their families. So parents
� Set up regular ways of communicating with the teacher.
If you and the teacher come from very different backgrounds,
see if you can find someone to go with you to school who can
help you understand why teachers do things they way they do.
Teachers who know you care about how your child is doing are
more likely to go out of their way to work with you and your
� Find ways to be involved in your child's education.
If you are working and can't easily come to school, then try
to do other things�like sending a note to the teacher about
a homework assignment you found particularly interesting.
� Use a problem-solving technique if you have an issue
with the teacher. Ask the teacher to describe the problem
and then engage her or him in suggesting lots of different
ways that the teacher and you can solve the problem. Avoid
getting defensive or angry if you can. Keeping the relationship
focused on the problem and various solutions will make things
better for all.
MetLife Foundation, established in 1976 by Metropolitan Life
Insurance Company, has a long history of supporting initiatives
that improve the quality of education and help young people
succeed. The Foundation commits its resources in education
to programs that stimulate change and cultivate effective
learning environments at school through teacher preparation
and minority education, and throughout the community by involving
families in education and encouraging after-school programs
and arts and health education. For more information about
the Foundation, please visit the Web site at www.metlife.org.
Families and Work Institute is a non-profit center for research
that provides data to inform decision-making on the changing
workforce, changing family and changing community. Founded
in 1989, FWI is known for ahead of the curve, non-partisan
research into emerging work-life issues; for solutions-oriented
studies addressing topics of vital importance to all sectors
of society; and for fostering connections among workplaces,
families, and communities. For more information, visit our
Web site at www.familiesandwork.org.