Posts Tagged ‘Parent engagement’

An Insightful NYC Student Sees Schooling’s Deep Flaws and Appreciates the Outsized Role of Good Luck

January 3, 2021 Leave a comment

My daughter reads NYC blogs that cover public education and shares especially insightful posts with me. Earlier this week she emailed a link to this post by a NYC high school senior titled “NYC Teen Says: Those Who Benefit Most from the School System are Those Who are Lucky Enough Not To Need It”.  The premise of the article is that a close examination of the way NYC schools operate indicates that young men and women like him, who are fortunate enough to be born into affluent and well educated families receive disproportionate benefits to those less fortunate… and during the pandemic those benefits were magnified. This paragraph from the article describes this phenomenon:

One factor that makes advanced classes so much more effective for my and other students’ learning is that schools preemptively filter out any students judged “unprepared”. Many have been purged from my path by forces beyond my – and their – control (admissions officers, scheduling algorithms, The Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council), not only clearing the highway for me, but paving a personal exit, as well. Those who have been pushed out of my way are those who weren’t taught to navigate this highway as well I was. They are doomed to drive on. They missed the exit that I used, but it’s not their fault; I was given a more accurate map. I was given options which prevented me from being reliant on continued standard schooling.

It is a remarkably thought provoking article on the way the sorting and selection algorithms (i.e. The Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council) favor the affluent and provide them with the tools to learn independently while shunting others to the side. A good read for the new year!

The “Parenting Tax” Levied on Black Parents Conveniently Overlooked by Choice Advocates

January 1, 2021 Comments off

This short but powerful article by Livia Gershon from an October 2019 JStor Daily describes the “parenting tax” levied on black parents because unlike their white counterparts, they are unable to reside in neighborhoods with desirable schools and are, therefore, compelled to spend time navigating the “choice” given to them in the urban areas where they reside. Based on a study conducted by sociologists Angela Simms and Elizabeth Talbert, one aspect of school choice that’s rarely part of the debate on “choice” is the “tax” in time and effort that it imposes on many black parents.

While white families often chose to live in specific communities because they were known for having “good schools,” that option was often not available to black families—and not just for financial reasons. Many black parents worried that moving into “good,” whiter districts would take them away from their social support systems, which, due to historical segregation, tend to be in communities with “bad” local schools.

Most voters– especially affluent white voters— want to believe that mobility is possible for all parents. But for many economically disadvantaged parents there are neighborhoods and communities that are not available to them, especially if they are minorities. When these families want to provide good schools for their children, they cannot simply choose to move to a town or zone that has a desirable school. Instead, they can enter the labyrinthine process of “choice”, where they submit paperwork for schools to pore over and decide if their child is worthy of consideration. This “hidden tax” is levied for all parents in some cities (i.e. NYC where “selective schools” begin at grade 6 and “magnet programs” begin as early as Kindergarten) and for poor and minority students in all too rare circumstances in some regions. But because there is “choice” it is possible for some politicians and voters to claim equity of opportunity without acknowledging the inequitable hardships that result from accessing choice. 

Ms. Gershon concludes her post with this:

Simms and Talbert write that this sort of “tax” in time and effort paid by black parents will continue as long as choice—rather than desegregating neighborhoods and equalizing communities’ school resources—is presented as the answer to unequal schools.



Pandemic Proves Worth of Community Schools Model

December 26, 2020 Comments off

As noted in several posts, the pandemic has laid bare the underlying problems of public schools that were not visible when test scores were the sole metric for measuring quality… and, as two recent articles indicate, the pandemic has brought to light the value of community schools, a value that was not necessarily reflected in those same test scores.

As In the Public Interest writer Jeremy Mohler noted in a blog post earlier this month, even though charter schools and school choice have garnered headlines, neither has improved schools by any metric nor have either addressed the underlying causes of the performance gap between affluent districts and those that serve children raised in poverty. One model, however, HAS made a difference, a difference that became clear when the pandemic closed schools in March: community schools.

Community schools are public schools that partner with local communities to create the conditions students—and communities—need to thrive.

That means connecting schools with services provided by nonprofits and other public agencies, like mental health care. That means after-hours learning for students and parents, like culinary arts. Most importantly, that means more parent and teacher involvement in the school’s decision-making process….

But research is revealing really how successful community schools can be as more and more open. Not only can they improve student educational outcomes, but community schools can also reduce racial and economic achievement gaps.

Just before COVID-19 hit, a four-year Rand Corp. study found that 113 community schools in New York City had improved attendance, increased graduation rates, and saw more students passing courses and advancing grades on time.

Mr. Mohler also noted that there is nothing new about community schools. The idea was outlined in 1902 speech John Dewey gave to National Education Association!

Jane Quinn’s  Hechinger Report opinion piece, “To the Rescue– The Schools We Need Now Are Community Schools“, draws on some of the same findings as the ITPI article and offers these additional insights on the characteristics of a community school and why they have been particularly responsive in the pandemic:

…researchers have reached consensus on the common features found in different types of successful community schools: integrated student supports; expanded learning time and opportunities; family and community engagement; and collaborative leadership and practice.

This consensus can help other district leaders who have come to understand — through the crisis caused by the current pandemic — that they cannot, by themselves, respond to all the needs of their students and families.  They require partners who can bring skills and knowledge to address food insecurity, health and mental health crises, child care needs, technology access problems and housing issues.  Community schools across the country have been able to marshal resources because they’ve put partnerships in place that provide a quick response to current realities.

Ms. Quinn offers several concrete examples of how these community schools provided timely support and how they function in the real world. In a world where we are being compelled to separate from each other, the value of the networks that are inherent in community schools are becoming clearer and clearer… and the need for the interconnectedness of agencies that serve children is increasingly coming into focus.