Parents in poor communities do care about their children’s schooling, writes Alan Richard for the Hechinger Report.
In desperately poor Greenwood, Mississippi, “parents are gathering regularly to chart a course for better schools, a better community and better lives for their families,” he writes.
The national nonprofit group Parents for Public Schools, has revamped its Parent Engagement Program. PEP chapters have formed in several Mississippi towns and in Cincinnati, Seattle, Kalamazoo, Michigan and Pitt County, North Carolina.
Greenwood PEP co-leader Tijuanda Beckworth, a mother of two, said, “It’s not that you don’t want to be involved in school. It’s more like, what steps do I take?”
“The parents always blame the teachers, the teachers always blame the parents. … You want to get out of the blame game. (It) helped us to strategize, what questions to ask, how to ask those questions” and led everyone to discover “the difference between involvement and engagement,” said Beckworth, whose own participation in PEP led her to start a book club for male students.
At a PEP event held on a Saturday morning, parents discussed their issues with the local public schools, which were taken over by the state due to low performance. The schools lack bilingual staff to serve an influx of Hispanic students, middle schoolers have been crammed into classrooms meant for early childhood classes and schools haven’t explained how instruction is changing to meet Common Core standards.