March 14, 2011
Letter to Education Week, 2/10/11
On February 5th, Sue Ferguson, the beloved long-time chair of the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (NCPIE), died unexpectedly in her sleep. Founded in 1981, NCPIE is composed of more than 80 national education, parent, community and advocacy organizations that champion home, school and community partnerships to enhance the education of all young people, especially those from low-income neighborhoods.
A memorial celebration will be held at the National Education Association headquarters in Washington, DC, on March 14th at NEA, 1201 16th Street, Washington, DC, in Conference Room B. The memorial will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Before Sue took the helm, the NCPIE chairmanship rotated among member groups and relied on the US mail to announce its meetings. In 1994, she steered the coalition into the Internet Age, developing a list serve and Web site, and greatly expanded NCPIE membership. In addition, NPCIE became a founding member of the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, which, under Education Secretary Richard Riley, recruited businesses, family and school organizations and religious and community groups to bring the importance of family involvement in children's learning to the national forefront.
NCPIE's monthly meetings serve as an information clearinghouse for organizations with an interest in children and families and have become a much sought-after venue for the announcement of new reports, research, programs, lobbying efforts, and policy initiatives. Sue's genial but firm facilitation allowed for ample information-sharing and reporting in a compact two hours, to the participants' gratitude and relief.
Sue began her career in education as a teacher of children with emotional and behavioral disorders before becoming a curriculum supervisor and program director, and then a mother of a daughter with severe disabilities. Spurred by this child, Sue became a leader and advocate for her and others like her, serving on the Board of Directors of the Arc of Northern Virginia and playing an instrumental role in the establishment of the Falls Church City Public Schools' landmark inclusion program.
Sue has also been an information specialist and outreach coordinator at the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities. In addition to a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University, she earned a master's degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Anne T. Henderson
Annenberg Institute for School Reform
Karen L. Mapp
Lecturer on Education
Program Director -- Education, Policy and Management Masters Program
Harvard Graduate School of Education