You pay taxes. You support your school at levy time. You help with homework and send your child to school ready to learn. As far as you know, you're doing all you can to ensure your child gets a top-quality education.

You pay taxes. You support your school at levy time. You help with homework and send your child to school ready to learn. As far as you know, you're doing all you can to ensure your child gets a top-quality education.

But if you had the opportunity to earn an even higher 'return on investment' in your child's education, would you do it? Of course you would! You can kick up the value of your child's education by learning about issues that affect your child's school. You also can help local and state educators understand your expectations for your child's success.

As today's students graduate and move into the global business arena, they will be vying for jobs and financial gains in a workforce of people whose foreign-based public educations focus mindfully on mathematics, science, engineering, technology and foreign languages. These areas are driving the world economy.

Two years ago, Ohio became the first state to compare its public education system to those of other countries. Even though Ohio now ranks seventh in the nation in public education, the state has more to do to bring its children's skills and learning up to world-class standards. Here's how you can help make sure your child's school is on the team.

Know the issues that affect public education and stay informed about developments.

There is a statewide volunteer group of 35 parents who meet regularly with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) to stay informed about state and national laws that affect public schools. This Parent Advisory Council (PAC) also helps the state superintendent of public instruction and ODE tap into the advice, expertise and volunteer spirit of parents and families to improve children's learning. You can offer input about things you would like to see the PAC address by e-mailing parents@ode.state.oh.us.

You also can team up with other parents in your school or community to schedule a Parent Academy, a local workshop offered by ODE and Ohio parents who are trained in education topics. Right now, ODE is scheduling sessions for a Parent Academy titled Conditions for Learning, which will give parents a better grasp on how to support a child's education at home. Parents also will learn how to work with their districts to ensure a safe, caring school environment that promotes learning. The Academy continues to develop other topics. For details, visit www.ode.state.oh.us and search for keywords Parent Academy.

Know where your child's school and district stand.

As a child, did knowing that a report card loomed at the end of the term help keep you on track? Today, your local school and school district get report cards, too. You can see their grades by visiting the ODE website and searching for keywords Local Report Card. A series of clicks will lead you to your local schools' scores.

Partner with your district to help improve school and student performance on the state's academic content standards.

These standards tell parents what their children need to know and be able to do in different subjects at specific grade levels. To familiarize yourself with content standards for your child's grade, visit the ODE website and search for keywords Standards Guides for Families. This is part of a special section for families where you'll find more resources and information to help you help your child. Studies show that student performance improves with more parental involvement.

What better investment can we make in our children's futures than to equip them with the knowledge and skills to thrive in a world community and economy? Just as you know about the performance of your checking account, savings account, home equity value or other assets, make sure you know what local public education is earning for your child's future.