The Parent Summit happened on May 12th, 2018 and was a great success! Big thanks to everyone who came.
The goal of the summit was to activate and connect people. It gave parents a taste of working together on voicing thoughts, and brainstorming actions.
If you find the summary notes below interesting, and would like to keep the conversation going and work on taking them from raw ideas to actionable recommendations (by working with stakeholders), come to the June 11th Next Steps Meeting and join the 9 Working Groups!
Below is a summary of the discussions at the summit.
PARENTS HOPE AT START OF SESSION How to meet everyone’s needs How to help struggling students & close achievement /opportunity gap for students of color and low-income - but what works? Maintain diversity, address racism (especially high school, also district-wide), and reduce self & forced segregation More teachers of color Improve relationships and *student voice* Making co-teaching more prominent Connect with families about how we can do better Systems for more transparent data sharing Opportunities for school to school sharing (parents, staff, etc.) WORKING WELL Co-teaching Social-Emotional learning, mindfulness, & part-time social worker at some schools Adults starting to listen to youth voices, and strong teacher-student connecting From different schools: Montessori approach, Social-justice at C-Port, Anti-racism curriculum at G&P Diverse mentors (when present) & flexible/responsive teachers Well-resourced & small schools Project based learning No-tracking Access to Specials (art, music, etc.) NEEDS IMPROVEMENT/CHANGE Challenging all students How important are test scores? Lower scores for students of color & students with lower SES Early ed for everyone More multi-age learning opportunities Finding/retaining teachers of color District wide approach to anti-bias education/training More equitable access to enrichment programs Better assessment & planning of special ed programs ACTION STEPS (NOT FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS) Share assessment data, and district’s plan for students performing above and below grade level. More skilled adults in every classroom (co-teaching, after-school & youth center help?) Collaborate with stakeholders to assess and implement anti-bias training and curriculum district-wide. More teachers of color. Implement more active engagement of marginalized parents through paid, city-wide parent council positions.
WORKING WELL Arts and music programs. Diversity, Social Justice and focus on Equity. Culturally relevant curriculum. Power of teams of teachers who can complement each other. Dedicated teachers. NEEDS IMPROVEMENT/CHANGE Academic achievement/closing the gap — same gaps persist since before the Innovation Agenda. Teaching to the average, complacency on good enough. Students not getting enough help on math; topics on MCAS were not covered in class. At school council meetings, parent voice is extremely limited. The administration may feel pressure to defend their work and not recognize parents as a resource. The general experience is that parents aren’t invited to help in the classroom. Everyone agreed that parents could be more welcomed. Communication between parents is not effectively facilitated. The schools have all of the parent contact info, but cannot (or do not want to?) share the info with parents or parent orgs. Parents would like teachers and the administration to reach out not only about problems with behavior but also problems with academics. More explosive developmental stage leads to more disruptive classroom climate. More info on the schools, especialy for transition. In particular, need to better attract parents who have other choices (charter, private). ACTION STEPS (NOT FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS) Staff teaching based on needs, especially on math. Get teachers to reach out - phone, home visits, email, unstructured events (coffee hour/meetings). More open & receptive of parent input, e.g. half the school council meeting let parents talk. Involve parents more: let parents help define the new Family Liaison role & giving more time for parents to speak. Strengthen interdisciplinary instruction. Unified place to access information.
PARENTS HOPE AT START OF SESSION Social-emotional learning Talk about school climate & parent involvement Long school days - 20 minute recess Hear more about the recess and free play topic in the district How is free play continued in older grades? Bring ideas to the school committee to enable change Social emotional learning and school climate (how to promote a welcoming school climate?) What is the reality in CPS How can we do integrated learning that promote student learning? WORKING WELL Mindfulness curriculum Some anti-bullying curriculum Recognize school climate as an issue Responsive classroom NEEDS IMPROVEMENT/CHANGE Start at JK “empathy problems” Lack of accessibility for parents (transparency from the district down to the parents) Boys & kids of color not getting what they need Short recess -> not eating lunch to talk to friends Social emotional wellbeing < academics ACTION STEPS (NOT FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS) Find a way to incorporate more frequent breaks Enforcing policy of not taking away recess for disciplinary reasons Boys & kids of color not getting what they need (more PD for teachers, cultural competency; more inclusive school climate) More SEL coach/personnel across schools Questions parents can ask at parent-teacher conferences Proximity events for parents across schools (informal and formal communications) More accessible website open to all parents - transparency in communication
PARENTS HOPE AT START OF SESSION Why aren’t more immersion programs being offered? More information how to help kids achieve language proficiency WORKING WELL Programs are available and high quality! Programs exist! NEEDS IMPROVEMENT/CHANGE SPED / behavior problem kids get pushed out Bilingual preschool offerings Transparency about lottery Languages offered in after school ACTION STEPS (NOT FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS) More immersion programs, advocate for them in district (will also combat catiness) E.g. Pilot Bengali, Amharic, Haitian Creole immersion programs All kids learn world language & then additional immersion option in 3rd grade Pair up JK families with families in 3,4,5 etc., weekly event with food, music Expand school day to accommodate language learning Expand school building for JK and eventual Language afterschool programs Partner w/community leaders who are not present. Outreach to populations More funding for bilingual teachers to support students Bilingual books in every library Inclusivity
PARENTS HOPE AT START OF SESSION Mostly be heard and voice concerns/frustrations. Know that their feedback would reach the CPS dept heads Understand how things are working Voice concerns WORKING WELL Concept of controlled choice School options Ability to switch schools Immersion is innovative JK is a good draw for families to invest in Cambridge Information is readily available Options for good schools Full day (after school) option Inclusive classrooms NEEDS IMPROVEMENT/CHANGE Not enough spots in popular schools Better allocation of funds to teachers & caregivers. Not enough Spanish immersion Lack of communication on JK/K lottery Transparency of how lottery work (points) work DHSP is separate from CPS Facilities/accomodations for bodies in a space Expand (immersion for example) for the needs of the kids SES balance Paid lunch is limiting Kennedy/Longfellow lost Italian in the Innovation Agenda ACTION STEPS (NOT FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS) More JK slots/universal JK. Then add more staff to manage age appropriate needs Add immersion and/or Montessori option to make every school equitable and attractive Place free & reduced lunch families in schools with open slots for immersion programs to balance it out. Provide support services to supplement language needs Balance sibling preference with language points More affordable preschool, quality preschool options
PARENTS HOPE AT START OF SESSION How can STEM/arts be integrated in the school day How can STEM & Arts be throughout the day? WORKING WELL STEM clubs Music showcase Kodaly Art classes Full-time art teachers Math clubs Art & music shows NEEDS IMPROVEMENT/CHANGE More arts/STEM integrated throughout school day More project based learning Different perspective of role of STEAM ACTION STEPS (NOT FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS) Share best practices between schools and all call for artists/scientists/musicians from parents/community to help develop curriculum in a STEAM integrated way. Shifting from worksheet homework to projects/inquiry based creations. Field trips that facilitate students being active participants through art & science Reinforce learning through being outside/kinesthetic learning. Make learning opportunity for teachers accessible. Develop database of resources for teachers to integrate arts/STEAM/project based learning. More specialized staff in STEAM/Arts
PARENTS HOPE AT START OF SESSION Discussing with other parents, finding support Finding common ground Feel like people are either strongly for or against the MCAS and conversation is impossible WORKING WELL Morning session: they hate MCAS (nothing working well) Afternoon session: Ranking and standardization with MCAS Students of color more represented by test MCAS Scores tell which schools are good NEEDS IMPROVEMENT/CHANGE Students need to be assessed differently, less high-stakes testing Schools focusing more on other subjects and limiting subjects to what’s on test ACTION STEPS (NOT FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS) More well-rounded curriculum/not teaching to the test Less pressure on students Clearer narrative of what test measures and how parents should read results Research places that have had success with opting out (NY State and NYC) Research alternatives to MCAS where goal is lifetime learning & non-punitive Build better modes of communications to fortify partnerships between parents and between parents and teachers
PARENTS HOPE AT START OF SESSION Preparing for the transition of their child to highschool Supporting students already in the system Cultural competency of staff and teachers Concerns about equity and access WORKING WELL Guidance counselor resources Communications with staff Block schedule Placement of CP, AP, [honor] (do away with systems bias) Special ed needs are being met better Diverse school NEEDS IMPROVEMENT/CHANGE Schedule Parent involvement - (marginalized communities absent) Teachers of Color—not enough; not retaining them enough Advocacy for trans, parents of color, 1st generation immigrant Relative lack of diversity in many classes RSTA seems to collect/be used more by underprivileged kids Attendance Violation policy ACTION STEPS (NOT FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS) Parent advisory / communications / groups for both parents & staff - SES marganlized community / Anti racist curriculum implementation Teachers of Color teacher hiring / representatives Research transition process - middle school -> high school -> college Using community meetings to learn more about students Later start time, more time between classes
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