I’ll be a guest on an Internet “chat” that Education Week will be having on parent engagement in schools on September 15th at 2 PM Eastern time. This is a link to their webpage about chats, but it’s not listed on the schedule yet. I’ll share more information about it next week.
Unfortunately, it’s terrible timing for teachers (I certainly had to do quite a bit of juggling to participate), but I think it should be interesting.
Harlem Program Singled Out as Model: Obama Administration to Replicate Plan in Other Cities to Boost Poor Children is a lengthy Washington Post piece on the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ).
The HCZ obviously does very good work. I do have some questions, though, about how they relate to parents and to the broader community. From what I have learned (and that just comes from newspaper articles, reading the book Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America , and seeing some video interviews with Geoffrey Canada), I wonder if the HCZ might relate to parents more as clients rather than partners. I also don’t really know what kind of relationships they have with other neighborhood institutions like religious congregations and community groups (I have those same two critiques about most schools).
If they don’t have that kind of grassroots base, I wonder how any kind of real neighborhood transformation will be able to take place. It also puts the HCZ in a politically weakened situation where they are at the mercy of wealthy donors without a power base to push for additional resources.
However, I want to emphasize that these concerns might very well have no foundation in reality, and might just be due to my lack of knowledge. I hope to explore these questions further over the next year, including possibly making a visit.
I’d be interested in hearing from readers who might have more information than me about these issues.
What does it mean to engage parents?
For a preview of the book, you can read two articles I wrote for Public School Insights earlier this summer. Here are links to all four in the series (two were written by Renee Moore, an exceptional teacher who is also a member of the Teacher Leaders Network):
Part One: How Much Parent Involvement Do Educators Really Want? by Renee Moore
Part Two: Parent Involvement or Parent Engagement? by Larry Ferlazzo
Part Three: Building Community Trust in Urban Schools is Hard Work by Larry Ferlazzo
Part Four: Education is Becoming More Consumer-Driven by Renee Moore