Parent engagement can take on many forms within schools. Helping a child with homework, attending after school activities, cooking for a bake sale, and volunteering in the school’s office all fall under our general understanding of typical expectations for parent involvement in schools.Parent engagement, however, is often not defined by parents, which sometimes leads to negative narratives about a “lack of engagement” of parents of color or low-income parents. Parents and communities are critical to catalyzing and sustaining improvement in schools, but one of the biggest challenges can be finding ways to engage and support the powerful involvement of parents.
“If you have a friend of a friend with a kid – even a stranger – remind them that they’re worth something.”
Student Karoline Jimenez urged this of her audience after an hour of tears and testimony at the Philanthropy New York (PNY) June 17th screening of Stepping Up, a glimpse into the world of college access by filmmaker Julie Dressner. This feature-length documentary will highlight the woefully high 250:1 student-to-guidance counselor ratio in New York City. Guidance counselors have little time, says the film, to spend with their assigned students on college guidance, and there are deep disparities between students from low-income and high-income backgrounds who succeed in obtaining a bachelor’s degree. In an effort to close this guidance gap, then-high school students Karoline and friends Christine Rodriguez and Enoch Jemmott commit to helping their peers navigate the college application process. Stepping Up follows the three young people, trained by College Access: Research & Action (CARA), on their journey as high school peer counselors, even as they themselves undergo the intensive process of applying to schools.
The Schott Foundation for Public Education joins the country and the international community in mourning all of the lives lost and injured during the recent shootings in Orlando targeting members of the LGBTQ community specifically, and our humanity more broadly. The hatred exhibited in Orlando calls into question what more our country can do to limit unnecessary gun violence and to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBTQ individuals where they live, work, learn, play, worship, and govern. During this difficult time, Schott reaffirms its commitment to resource advocates and campaigns to institutionalize the policies and practices that create healthy living and learning spaces for all.
We recognize that the threat of homophobic and transphobic violence is very real for many of us, including our children.
Earlier this year, I received news that Valorie Johnson, a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, was planning to retire. As one of the few Native Americans working at a foundation, I celebrated her many accomplishments in the philanthropic sector. But I also grieved the impending loss of one the few Native influencers in philanthropy.
Schott is pleased to release our latest series of infographics, this time focusing on the barriers facing Black girls in our public schools. Only through using both a race and gender lens can we see — and fix — the unique systemic problems that Black girls must deal with on a daily basis.
Earlier this week parents, students, and educators gathered outside their schools in upwards of 80 cities, rallying in support of a more equitable, just, and well-funded public education system.
The Schott Foundation has been having an exciting few weeks of travelling around the country to share ideas, meet allied organizations, and see the work and future planes of our grantees highlighted in a variety of forums and conferences. It’s been great to see innovative and important conversations happening, and we’re glad to share with you some of the highlights!
Concerns about the importance and need to mobilize Black and Latino voters in 2016 and future elections have reached a fever pitch. But in many states and cities there are counterproductive disenfranchisement actions being taken that disempower Black and Latino communities -- the takeover of their public schools. In this attack on democracy, governance by locally elected school boards is stripped away altogether. This dismantling of democracy in predominantly poor communities and communities of color is now underway, or being proposed, in several states. Denying these citizens' right to elect local school boards through state takeovers or mayoral control should sound the same alarm as denying them the vote because the impact of the action minimizes their democratic voice and vote.
Why Arkansas? Four years ago, in February 2012, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) first posed that invitation as a question to fellow funders from across the country. In response, WRF hosted a statewide tour demonstrating to participants Arkansas’ readiness for education reform and investment.
The tour moved funders and advocates, including the Schott Foundation for Pubic Education, to create a full-fledged campaign. Initiated in 2012, the Arkansas Opportunity to Learn (AR OTL) Campaign unites disparate and distinct education advocacy organizations and grassroots groups. They all share a common goal: achieving education policy reforms that benefit all Arkansas students.
What will it take to ensure that all children have an opportunity to learn, regardless of their background or which school they attend? The work of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado has long pointed out that the problems of inequity in public education aren’t just contained within our public schools, but also stem from larger structural issues in the community like unemployment, poverty, and disinvestment of public resources.
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