Newark School Fiasco Continues For Students & Parents

I’ve written a number of previous posts about the on-going fiasco at Newark schools, and it isn’t getting any better.

Some very understandable angry and furstrated parents called for a boycott on the first day of school last week, and there is some effort to make it a long-term one.

I don’t know the details on the ground there, but I do have to say from my community organizing experience that there is a long history of failed school boycotts (apart from one-day boycotts, which can be an effective show of strength with sufficient support) — they are generally just too difficult to maintain with parent work commitments and legal issues.

It does sound like the boycott of the first day had some success. I have to wonder, though, about the wisdom of trying to continue it.

Here’ are articles about the boycott:

Parents open ‘Freedom School,’ continue boycott of One Newark reorganization plan is from a New Jersey TV station.

Newark Schools Open, But Some Parents Boycott Over New Enrollment Program is from CBS New York.

Newark parents settle in for boycott is from Politico.

The Illusionist is by Bob Braun.

Newark superintendent urges parents not to boycott is from The Associated Press.

Parent Frustration Over Newark Student-Enrollment Plan Mounts is from Ed Week.

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“NY City schools will push for more ‘family connections,’ parent involvement, Chancellor Carmen Fariña says”

City schools will push for more ‘family connections,’ parent involvement, Chancellor Carmen Fariña says is the headline of a New York Daily News article.

Here’s are some excerpts:

Family engagement at schools will be getting an overhaul, the city schools boss tells the Daily News. Changes include longer one-on-one parent-teacher conferences, workshops for parents and support for GED and English as a Second Language classes for moms and dads…

…. In November there will be one-on-one parent-teacher conferences — with the student present.

Fariña said the by-appointment, 15-minute meetings on academic progress would be more effective than in previous years, when parents would stand in line for fleeting face time with their kids’ teacher.

It’s all part of a new model — codified in the new teachers contract — that allows teachers to devote at least 40 minutes of every school week to meetings with parents.

“I personally don’t think a PTA meeting is a good measure of whether parents are engaged in schools,” said Fariña, explaining the need for a new approach.

You can read my previous posts about Chancellor Fariña’s parent involvement efforts here.

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“Fla. School Board Candidate: Allow Some Parents With Criminal Pasts to Volunteer”

Fla. School Board Candidate: Allow Some Parents With Criminal Pasts to Volunteer is the title of a blog post over at Ed Week.

Here’s how it begins:

A candidate vying for a seat on the Pinellas County School Board in Largo, Fla., this November wants principals to have more control over how the district’s policy that bars most parents with criminal records from volunteering at schools is implemented.

Beverley Billiris, a former local elementary school teacher, believes the district should allow school principals to consider permitting parents who have “turned their lives around” after committing nonviolent or nonsexual crimes to volunteer.

It certainly makes sense to me!

You might also be interested in one of my previous posts: Charlotte Schools Say Undocumented Parents Can’t Volunteer In Schools — For Now, At Least.

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This Is Interesting: Parents Help Decide Curriculum & Hire Teachers At Pennsylvania School

State College’s Delta Program middle school off to busy start is the headline of an article about a middle school in Pennsylvania begun by a local district to reduce loss of students to charters.

Here’s an excerpt:

Delta Director Jon Downs said the alternative program for State College middle school students — the complement to the established secondary school — operates on a democratic model where students and their parents have as much of a voice in the curriculum and new hires as teachers and administrators.

“It gives students a greater choice of what they take and study,” Downs said. “They approve their schedule, suggest courses and help hire teachers. That’s a lot of involvement. Our goal is to empower students to make some decisions and to be responsible for their decisions.”

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“Teacher home visits ease kindergarteners’ fears of first day of school”

Teacher home visits are certainly in the news these days!

Here’s the latest article about what’s going on in Tulsa: Teacher home visits ease kindergarteners’ fears of first day of school.

Here’s the final sentence in the story:

“We’re really trying to focus on family engagement, not just involvement,” Velez said. “We really are trying to let them know how they can keep learning going at home.”

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“How to Get Kids to Class: To Keep Poor Kids in School, Provide Social Services”

How to Get Kids to Class: To Keep Poor Kids in School, Provide Social Services is the headline of an op-ed in The New York Times by the president of Communities in Schools.

Here’s the last paragraph:

Putting social workers in schools is a low-cost way of avoiding bigger problems down the road, analogous to having a social worker in a hospital emergency room. It’s a common-sense solution that will still require a measure of political courage, something that all too often has itself been chronically absent.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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Nice Piece For Parents: “12 ways to identify a good school”

Jay Mathews has just published a nice post in The Washington Post titled 12 Ways To Identify A Good School.

Here’s how it begins:

Fourteen years ago, I wrote a Washington Post magazine piece about a young couple seeking a school for their daughter, including 12 things to look for in a good school. The article survives online. Parents still ask me if I would change any of those recommendations.

I would, a bit. Here is the original list, with my updates in italics:

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Health Center Planned At Sacramento School

Community health center planned for Sacramento’s Johnson High is the headline of an article in the Sacramento Bee.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention any kind of parent involvement in the effort, though it does mention the possibility of starting up a similar project at the high school where I teach. If that happens, I guarantee that parents will be engaged in the conversation — neither our principal or our parent involvement coordinator would have it otherwise!

You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Learning About Community Schools.

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Parent Revolution Throws A Fit

I’ve written many posts about the destructive impact the organization Parent Revolution can have on schools, teachers, students and their families.

Their march of destruction continues as they are now threatening to sue the Los Angeles school district if they don’t allow the use of the “parent trigger” (see One Good Thing Comes Out Of Ill-Conceived CA District NCLB Waiver: LAUSD Not Subject To Parent Trigger).

To their credit, Parent Revolution has tempered their methods slightly from what they were doing originally. The main reason, though, why their work hasn’t been so damaging lately is because more and more people are seeing through their rhetoric, and few families want to have anything to do with them anymore.

If they really wanted to help families, though, their best move would be dissolution.

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Charlotte Schools Say Undocumented Parents Can’t Volunteer In Schools — For Now, At Least

Here’s how the article, Solutions elude CMS on undocumented volunteers, in the Charlotte Observer begins:

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools team assigned to find a way undocumented immigrant parents can volunteer in schools is running short on time and even shorter on potential solutions to the hot-button issue.

The team’s final meeting is Tuesday, and it has yet to find a quick, easily affordable fix to the current policy, which requires anyone volunteering in schools to produce a Social Security number and driver’s license for a criminal background check.

Undocumented immigrants – people not in the country legally – do not have such forms of identification, making it impossible for them to volunteer in schools where their children are students.

Thanks to K-12 Parents and the Public for the tip.

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Newark District Continues To Be Model For How NOT To Treat Parents

I’ve written so much about the ongoing disaster in Newark for parents and their children.

Here’s the latest — a post from Bob Braun titled Cami’s Newark enrollment plan collapses in the heat, with these being the first two paragraphs:

The implementation of the deeply flawed “One Newark” student-dispersal program all but collapsed Thursday as the state administration’s highly paid bureaucrats kept hundreds of angry and frustrated parents and children waiting in un-airconditioned school rooms or outside in 90+ heat to register their children for the few remaining public school seats. Just hours into the chaos, Newark school officials locked the doors to Newark Vocational and told the men, women, and children waiting outside to come back at 5 a.m. the next morning.

The people in line outside shouted angrily at the bureaucrats and demanded a “number”–as shoppers do at meat markets–and the chance to get inside so they could plan for their children’s education. Many said they could not return the next day because they had taken the day off from working and couldn’t take another day.

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