LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged the Los Angeles Unified School District today to embrace his plan for getting parents involved in the education of their children.

“Parents play a critical role in motivating their children to learn and achieve,” Villaraigosa said.

“Schools should play an equally critical role … and do a better job of engaging and empowering them in their children’s education.”

Villaraigosa, who runs the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which was created to help students at 21 low-ranked schools bring their test scores up to state and federal standards, participated in a forum sponsored by NBC News today.

The mayor said his partnership had come up with innovative ways to get parents more involved in the education of their children. Every sixth-grader, he said, is given a home computer, and parents are required to participate in technology workshops.

The partnership also is creating “Family Action Teams” at each of its schools to do outreach with students’ families; and holding monthly “parent colleges,” or workshops run by teachers about what parents can do to help their children graduate and get into college.

Partnership workers have made more than 20,000 phone calls to parents, inviting them to workshops, and more than 8,000 parents have participated in events geared toward benefiting students, according to the Mayor’s Office.

“We have been planning to implement parent college at LAUSD, a program which was incubated in the partnership schools,” LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said. “Here is another good example of learning together to best serve our youth.

Many of the mayor’s initiatives rely on volunteers and would not cost the district much to adopt, Villaraigosa spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said.

“Any plans to move forward on implementing the parent college (across LAUSD) would include the cost to roll out the program district wide. We are still determining those costs,” said LAUSD spokesman Robert Alaniz.

“We are calling upon the LAUSD to set these high expectations across the district, so that more students, and parents, will have the opportunity to rise to the occasion,” Villaraigosa said.

By Richie Duchon | City News Service