In local libraries, neighborhood associations, school cafeterias, and places of worship, families sit down together and share their hopes and dreams for their children. They think about what schools need to do to better equip students for college, career, entrepreneurship, and service to their communities. They talk about the need for more teachers who reflect their demographics, and translation resources that help family members communicate with teachers and school staff. They contemplate improving access to sports and arts programs. They imagine more college counselors and challenging courses that help students enter college prepared for success.
Together they talk about what they love about their schools and what they’re worried about. They articulate their long-term vision for success-not just for their school or school system, but also for their young people.
Then, imagine that same community is also involved in the hiring process for a new superintendent or principal. They help ensure that district and school leadership understand their vision and pledge to work alongside them to make it a reality.
They ask: What strategies will you use to help us get our schools to where we want them to be? How will you work alongside us? How will we know that our voice is heard in this district and that our schools represent our community? Together they craft a strategic plan that takes advantage of the community’s unique strengths. That is real, authentic community engagement.
We know it’s possible, because it is happening in pockets across the country. Now it’s time for all schools, districts, and charter networks to take on this work.
In Walking Together, TNTP has gathered together some of the best thinking and most challenging questions from Durham, North Carolina, Brevard, Florida, and elsewhere.
To read more, see: https://tntp.org/walking-together