The law requires that PIRCs, authorized in 1994 as part of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, provide "comprehensive training, information and support" to parents, schools and other education-related agencies.
"The fact that we're authorized to do this work by the federal government is significant--and, I think, essential," says Vito Borrello, president of Every Person Influences Children (EPIC), one of two PIRCs in New York.
He added that PIRCs can compete with school districts, community-based organizations, and other nonprofit organizations for the funds.
Arizona State Parental Information Resource Center (PIRC), Gilbert
The Arizona State Parental Information Resource Center (AZ PIRC) works closely with the state's Department of Education (DOE).
PIRC facilitators train the ATPs and check to see that they write and implement goal-linked Action Plans for Partnerships to improve student achievement and other outcomes (attendance, good behavior, graduation rate).
For example, the PIRC
serving Texas uses a student group called the Youth Education Tekies to provide computer training for parents and other adults in the community so they can learn how to access online information about their children's schooling, particularly the state's education Web site, where school, district and state accountability data are posted.
As defined by the DOE, the funding agency for PIRCs
, the report says key roles for PIRCs
include providing leadership, technical assistance and support in the implementation of successful and effective parent involvement policies; strengthening partnerships among parents, teachers, principals, administrators and other school personnel in meeting the educational needs of children; and providing a comprehensive approach to improving student learning, through coordination and integration of federal, state and local services and programs.
The five PIRCs highlighted in the guide were selected through a rigorous peer review process that relied on both benchmarking and case study methodologies, in which researchers and practitioners helped screen the programs.
Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII), PIRCs have operated since 1995 to support parent involvement in Title I schools.
In Indiana, the State PIRC believes that parents need both information and opportunities to become leaders in order to work effectively with their school and community partners.
Iowa's Sustaining Parent Involvement Network (iSPIN), administered by the Iowa State PIRC, is featured in "Taking Leadership, Innovating Change: Profiles in Family, School, and Community Engagement" because of the progress it is making on this important front.