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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 September, 2003, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Parents paid to get involved in school
School bus
The new staff are meant to make parents feel more welcome when they visit the school

Every school in New York will have a professional "parent co-ordinator" when pupils re-open for the new term.

In an attempt to increase parental involvement in their children's education, the city is paying for schools to have a full-time staff member to act as a contact point and organiser for parents and family events.

The active support of parents has been claimed as an important factor in raising school standards. And parents can also provide a source of extra funding.

But inner-city schools have struggled to attract the involvement of parents - and the New York project is an attempt to pay for the kind of support enjoyed by schools in wealthier areas.

The co-ordinators, who can earn up to $39,000 per year, will be expected to create a "welcoming environment" for parents coming to the school.

These full-time workers will be expected to provide the support and liaison for parents' events and to encourage parents to find out more about how their children are learning.

'Parent offices'

If parents have concerns about their children's education, they should be able to contact the parent co-ordinator. There will also be 13 "parent offices" across the city, where parents can seek advice and information.

The parent co-ordinators, although appointed by head teachers, will not be teaching staff, and instead are meant to act as a bridge between parents and the school.

There will be a Parents' Academy to train the co-ordinators - and to reflect the racial diversity of the city's classrooms, more than two-thirds of the recruits are black, Asian or Hispanic.

"Schools improve and student achievement rises when parents are actively involved in their children's education," said Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein.

"It is so very critical for parents to feel welcomed and respected at our schools. We are providing Parent Co-ordinators with the training necessary to respond to parents' concerns and help parents develop the tools they need to be full partners in their children's education."

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