“Obama Administration Announces Together for Tomorrow”

Obama Administration Announces Together for Tomorrow is the headline of a press release just issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

I’m including some excerpts from the press release at the end of this post. After reading it, I still don’t really have a clue what they’re talking about — except that it has to do with promoting community engagement with schools. Does anyone else know what they are planning?

Here are the excerpts:

The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced today Together for Tomorrow, a new initiative to spotlight existing and spur new community engagement in turning around persistently low-performing schools.

“Together for Tomorrow is aimed at changing the relationship between schools and community partners so everyone feels a shared responsibility to improve low-performing schools,” said Joshua DuBois, special assistant to the President and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “Every child deserves an education that will enable them to succeed in a global economy. Faith and community groups are critical partners in this all-hands on deck moment.”

….The initiative will promote a community culture where education improvement is viewed as everyone’s responsibility. The work of skilled principals, teachers and school staff, in concert with dedicated parents, community organizations and volunteers will achieve positive results with the support of Together for Tomorrow.

The community surrounding Orlando’s Memorial Middle School is one of six demonstration sites, acting as examples for effective community participation in school intervention efforts. The site is led locally by the Heart of Florida United Way in cooperation with Orange County Public Schools and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Cities of Service initiative. Additional sites include communities in Center and Denver, Colo.; New Haven, Conn.; New Orleans, La; and Memphis, Tenn.

Upcoming Parent Teacher Chat On Twitter

Guest Post by Joe Mazza:

This Wednesday, February 29th at 9PM EST/6PM PST, #PTchat discusses Parent-Teacher Conferences and how parents AND teachers can maximize these oftentimes short sessions of face to face communication.

In prioritizing the needs of the child, how do parents and teachers plan for, facilitate, reflect and respond following these important conferences? Join parents and educators all over the world as we hone in on how to best utilize the time together.

Bring your ideas, experiences and insights to support the work of both parents and teachers. For more information on this week’s #PTchat, please visit Joe Mazza’s eFACE Today blog.

Irony Alert – NY Times Announces Parent Trigger Movie The Same Day LA Times Calls It A Disaster

The same day the Los Angeles Times details the disaster of the parent trigger, The New York Times runs an article about an upcoming Hollywood movie about….the parent trigger.

Financed and produced by the same people who did “Waiting For Superman,” the movie takes place in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania doesn’t have such a law). One major difference, though, is that in the movie a majority of parents and teachers have to want to takeover the school. In real life, teachers have no voice in parent trigger laws (though teachers here in California did ask for that inclusion).

As a teacher’s union spokesperson said, “I can’t wait for ‘Vouchers 3-D: The Movie.”

“Parent Trigger Divides Families” Says L.A. Times

The Los Angeles Times, which certainly can’t be described as an opponent of the so-called Parent Trigger, has just published an article headlined “‘Parent trigger’ campaign divides families at troubled Adelanto elementary school.”

After having failed at their first effort in Compton (and dividing the school in the process), the Parent Revolution is at it again. Here’s what one parent says, according to the article:

“They lied to me,” Rodriguez said of supporters, “and now it’s a big old mess.”

I’m adding this post to The Best Resources For Learning Why The Parent Trigger Isn’t Good For Parents, Kids Or Schools.

“Program to Bridge the Gap With Parents Draws Fire”

Program to Bridge the Gap With Parents Draws Fire is the headline on a New York Times article today about issues in Chicago.

It’s not surprising, considering Mayor Emanuel’s perspective on parent engagement. See:

Schools, And Parent Engagement, Don’t Seem To Be Rahm Emanuel’s Strong Suit

Rahm Emanuel’s “Transactional” Perspective On Parent Involvement/Engagement

Parent Leadership Is Often “Missing Link” In Community Schools

I’m a big supporter of community schools — where schools provide many programs and services to students and the community beyond traditional classes — and have previously published many posts about them.

The San Francisco Chronicle this morning published a front page story about a big community schools effort in Oakland.

One issue, though, that I’ve commented on in the past and suspect I’ll be saying again in the future is that often there is a lack of parent leadership in these community school efforts. Often, schools seem to only look at parents as “clients” to be served, and not as “partners” and “co-creators.”

Community schools are great. I just wonder how much better they could be be if parents were more participants in making decisions about them and not just viewed as a people needing help.

“Were Immigrant Parents Afraid to Report Sex Abuse Allegations at California School?”

Were Immigrant Parents Afraid to Report Sex Abuse Allegations at California School? raises an important issue about the tragedy at a Los Angeles elementary school (see my previous post, What A Tragic Mess In Los Angeles).

It highlights yet another reason why schools must make parent engagement a priority and develop a solid bond of trust in the community.

The post ends with this question:

Not only in cases of alleged abuse, but also in general, do you think fear of deportation negatively affects parental involvement at schools with large immigrant populations?

My answer, though, would generally be “no,” unless we’re talking about the growing number of states who are trying to make teachers and schools “guards instead of guardians” (as Randi Weingarten from the United Federation of Teachers put it), including Alabama.

What do you think?

“Giving Parents the Runaround on School Turnarounds”

Giving Parents the Runaround on School Turnarounds is the title of the press release from the respected Great Lakes Center announcing a review of a recent report on marketing unwise “school turnaround strategies.”

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Federal school “turnaround” strategies that call for firing teachers, replacing managers, or closing or converting public schools into charters are often met with resistance and anger among the parents whose children attend those schools. A recent study released by Public Agenda which focuses on how to market the concept of turnaround strategies fails to address the substantive concerns of resistant parents nor questions the soundness of these strategies as a way to improve schools, according to a new Think Twice review.

The report, What’s Trust Got to Do With It? A Communications and Engagement Guide for School Leaders Tackling the Problem of Persistently Failing Schools, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by William J. Mathis, an education researcher and former school superintendent who has studied school turnaround strategies.

You can read the full review here.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About The Four School Improvement Grant Models.