Last month, I wrote about the poor learning environment that my daughter was encountering at her public school, and how I communicated my frustrations to the superintendent, encouraging him to listen to the parents and show them that he will take action. He promised that he heard me and would resolve the problems. Here is what happened since then…
- He immediately reduced the class sizes in my daughter’s grade by adding a new class and reshuffling teachers.
- He added a second recess for some grades based on my suggestion.
- He immediately had a meeting with the teachers to discuss their problems and concerns.
- He gave the parents a forum to create a steering committee for the school.
Pretty nice reaction, but will it help the school’s fundamental problems? The best way to make progress is for the parents and school district to agree that there are areas that need work, come together to discuss ways to fix the problem areas, and then to take the type of necessary actions moving forward. Easier said than done, but certainly well within the realm of possibilities.
I just returned from the first steering committee meeting where a cheerful neutral facilitator from the county helped involved parents brainstorm concerns, categorize those concerns, and prioritize those concerns. In the next few months, we will create committees that will take those problem areas and begin to strategize on the most progressive and helpful ways to solve them.
What was evident to everyone at the steering meeting was that there wasn’t a representative sample of parents in attendance: meaning that the 80% black / 20% white ratio of the student population was reversed for the parents at this meeting. This is problematic for many reasons, including the fact that these changes won’t work if we don’t have the involvement of parents who represent the school’s majority.
I’ve been reading “The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One block at a Time” by David Sloan Wilson, hoping for some insight into how I can help my daughter’s school and also the community itself. The issues are challenging when I search on twitter for my hometown and words like “ghetto” and “scared” are quick to pop up in the results. Am I swimming against the tide or can a group of concerned parents revolutionize our over-stressed school district with positive changes?
I think my fellow parents have very reasonable concerns that are solvable: coherent discipline policies, healthy lunches, cooperative education, joyful learning, community and parental support, etc. Now my goal is to find the best science-based ways to help this steering committee achieve it’s goals.
Your thoughts and suggestions are more than welcome!