This paper discusses the founding of the Reggio Emilia preschool system in Reggio, Italy, in 1945 and its development through the 1950s to the present. Since the schools themselves were actually founded and constructed by parents in the aftermath of World War II, the Reggio Emilia approach has always emphasized parent involvement in every facet of its activities. The involvement of parents and community members is formally structured and integrated into the organization of the education department. Each site has classroom parent groups and a school parent group, while the entire system is run by a municipal management council composed of parents, staff, and community members. Educators in the United States could learn a good deal from this system, which puts parents at the center of the decision-making process. Rather than being the recipients of some government program, parents are empowered leaders in control of their children's schools and their children's future. (MDM)
Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the National Black Child Development Institute (22nd, Washington, DC, September 17-19, 1992).