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The Value of Parent-Teacher Conferences

October 21, 2010

By Gov. Dave Heineman

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

I want to encourage parents to attend their children's parent-teacher conferences. Many schools hold parent-teacher conferences early the fall, typically during the month of October. One of the most important things we can do for our children is to attend these meetings.

They provide an opportunity to meet teachers and administrators, to ask questions and to hear about how each child interacts in the classroom is an opportunity to gain valuable feedback about the development of individual students. Most importantly, it sends a powerful message about how much we as parents care about the education of our sons and daughters.

Education is more important than ever before. A high school education is no longer sufficient to prepare students for success in the workforce. Today, students need at least two years of college, and preferably four years of higher education, in order to obtain a good paying job.

That's why parent-teacher conferences are so important. From elementary school through high school, parents need to know how their sons and daughters are doing every step of the way. The best way to get that feedback is through a discussion with their teachers.

I shared with many of the parents and teacher groups I've visited with this year that if they invite me to one of their conferences, I will attend if my schedule permits. And so far this month, I have had the opportunity to be part of two parent-teacher conferences.

The conferences I attended involved a young fourth grader with autism and another student with developmental challenges. In both meetings, the parents were clearly dedicated and committed to their child's learning. Equally impressive was the professionalism and commitment of the educators working with these two students. It was clear to me that the teachers were working very hard on behalf of their students.

In the coming weeks I plan to attend parent-teacher conferences in Harvard, Chadron, Falls City and Elkhorn.

I believe in the value of parent-teacher conferences. My wife, a former elementary school teacher and principal, and I are strong believers in parental engagement. We believe that good teachers combined with strong parental involvement leads to good learning because we have seen firsthand the difference it can make. Sally and I were fortunate to be raised by parents who believed strongly in the value of education. It helped us to set priorities as we were growing up and later on as parents raising our own son. The belief that parents play a key role in student learning is something Sally brought to the schools and classrooms where she taught for more than 30 years.

If your son or daughter's school has a parent-teacher conference in the coming weeks, please attend. Your presence is a very meaningful symbol of the value and importance of a good education.

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