What Schools Need, But Don’t Get

In a stack of papers called Reform.

  • Feb
  • 23
  • 2006

Schools need dedicated staff to make sure its halls retain a hallowed sense. Students need their school to be a safe place. Teachers need their school to have the facilities necessary to teach in the 21st century. Parents need an easily navigated school, one that looks striking from the outside and can be a source of pride in the community. Schools need visitors to make all these things happen.

Visit Early! Visit Often!

If parents never come to the school because Johnny walks or his brother drops him off in the morning, when those bond and parcel tax measures appear on the ballot, it’s not so pressing that schools need improvement.

Yes, even cosmetic improvement sometimes takes precedence over more substantial systematic improvement. The image of a run down and “ghetto” school does a lot of damage, despite the truth behind the image. A school with high API/APY scores, good AP classes, outstanding admission to colleges, even if the school is actually quite good, the image of the school burns holes into the eyes of the public and becomes a stigma not easily shaken off.

Parents who never see the school don’t realize what’s needed when standing at the ballot box, finger poised between “yes” and “no” on that parcel tax proposition.

Connection To The Community

A few comments over the past few days lead me to believe that we all think that parents and the community should have a more pronounced presence on school campuses. Schools generally want the public to vote for measures that put more money into education. Schools generally want the support of the community. But schools seldom, in my experience and observation in the Bay Area, invite parents or the community onto the campus. Even with an active PTSA, the amount of parents who are on campus is limited and their role is very narrow.

The result is the isolation of a campus from the very community it’s located within. That is what I feel has happened on my campus. Do you feel any more connected to the community around yours?

Create A Reason

Schools need to create reasons to invite parents, for parents to see the conditions and begin to feel comfortable with where their children spend so much time each day. Given a compelling purpose for making the drive down, eating dinner a little early or late, and taking away from their evening, parents will probably answer a sincere invitation. Once they are on campus, schools may find it a little easier to convince the community of the need for more money to fix the problems they are having.

Further, with more of a connection to the community, seeing a school as “my school” means a far greater likelihood that improvements will be viewed as necessary. Parents walking through the halls as regularly as students could seldom be a bad thing.

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