“School’s a Community Effort in Indiana District”

School’s a Community Effort in Indiana District is another excellent article by Mary Ann Zehr at Education Week.

I’ve written a number of posts about these kind of community schools — ones that connect many community services with students and their families.

I’m concerned, though, about many of them relating to parents as clients instead of partners.

I had some email with Mary Ann Zehr about that issue today, and she graciously gave me permission to publish it here:

First, here was my question to her:

I really liked your community schools story today, and am a big advocate of them. However, one of the missed opportunities I have seen with many is that the school staff often decide what they should offer and how, with very little input from parents themselves. I’m going to point readers of my parents blog to your story, but I was wondering if you had any sense of if parents were and are involved in the decision to be more of a community school and how the programs are run?

Here is her response:

I don’t feel qualified to say how much input parents are giving into how the community schools should be run because that wasn’t the focus of my reporting. At Lincoln School, I attended a morning “coffee” hosted by the school for parents. Several parents and grandparents told me they regularly attend such events. They expressed appreciation for input they’d received about nutrition through that venue. At the “coffee”, several community people gave presentations for programs the attendees can get involved in, such as a program to support grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. The meeting was facilitated by a parent coordinator employed by Lincoln School; she seemed to have a good relationship with the parents. The parent coordinator has used the parents’ ideas for speakers and topics at the meetings. I didn’t ask how parents were involved in the various structures, such as the School Community Council, that are in charge of the school-community connections.

Do you know of community schools that have genuine partnerships with their students’ families?

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