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Japan-Inspired Education Campaign Encourages Metro Atlanta Parents to ‘Be There

Metro Atlanta school officials are encouraging schools and parents to “be there” for their children this school year. “Be There” is a national multimedia campaign designed to encourage parents to turn everyday situations with their children into “teachable moments” and thus improve student achievements, even when they can’t be present in schools.

Fourteen school districts in Metro Atlanta will participate in “Be There,” which is a national campaign based in part on Japanese parenting and educational philosophy and in part on the popularity of the “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink and Drive” advertising campaign of the 1980’s.

David Voss, who created the “Be There” campaign, explained the concept: “There’s a large section of parents who aren’t coming to school either because of conflicts in their schedule, they’re busy with two jobs or just don’t feel they fit into the PTA clique. That doesn’t mean they should simply delegate education to the schools.”

To Voss, “being there” means turning ordinary moments into extraordinary, teachable moments by encouraging parents to get involved n their children’s education even when they never have time to set foot into a school. The campaign comes in response to declining education budgets and overworked parents who, due to the economy, often more than ever simply can’t find the time away from work and responsibilities to take the time to get involved in their children’s school activities.

The campaign bombards parents with inspirational reminders in an effort to make “being there” the norm for parents. According to Voss, who visited Japan in late 1980, Japanese parents have “being there” down to a science. He aims for American parents to emulate Japanese parents’ emphasis on education and every day, “teachable moments.”

The program is free for schools all around the country, though there will be a cost associated with duplicating program materials.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that, according to Sloan Roach, a spokeswoman for Gwinnett County schools, which launched the campaign last September, is already making a huge difference in the district and has become a unifying theme for its schools.

“We think it has a lot of possibilities,” she said.

As quoted in the AJC:

Roach said that posters in Spanish and English promoting parental involvement were provided to all the schools, parent tip sheets were distributed and a Web site was launched.

She said the campaign “points out how simple connections we make every day with our children make a difference and hopefully will help parents look for those ways, slow down and take advantage of those opportunities.”