Submitted by John Arbeeny.
CPSD “Inside Schools”: Academic achievement and parental involvement. A change of emphasis?
I received the latest issue of CPSD Inside Schools, September 2022 and was mildly surprised to see the emphasis on academic achievement and parental involvement in their children’s education.
Superintendent Banner writes:
“We are steadfast in our support of your student’s academic achievement through enhanced curriculum, programs and resources.”
This is welcomed emphasis and the primary focus espoused by Directors Anderson and Wagemann. It’s the reason we have schools! Indeed, it was Director Wagemann who nominated academics recently as the Board’s emphasis for 2022-2023 among the four proposed by the Board which included sports, COVID recovery and sex trafficking. In the past, the Board majority has been somewhat reticent in addressing the District’s falling academic standing which is now in the lowest 28th percentile statewide (176 out of 245 Districts). Too often academic achievement has been dismissed as “not the only measure of success” when in fact it is one of the few objective metrics that can be used to measure success.
Ultimately it is what students learn academically that is a prime determinant in future success beyond their school years. If I have one contention with Superintendent Banner’s Inside Schools article is his statement “…the theme of our 2022-2023 school year…imagine”. I’d suggest that the scope of your imagination is largely dependent upon the scope of your academic achievement. So perhaps a better theme would be “achieve” academically!
The other theme of this Inside Schools issue is the repeated emphasis on parental involvement in their children’s education. This again has been an issue that Directors Anderson and Wagemann have championed on the Board. Two quotes from the Inside Schools article “Tips for Supporting Students this School Year” are below:
“Communication between parents and teachers ensures parents are in the know during the school year. The best way to keep tabs on your student’s grades, behavior and classroom habits is to go right to the source.”
“Being informed about what your child is learning can help you stay on top of their homework and help them with their learning. Parents can ask their child’s teacher to provide them with curriculum and textbooks at any time during the school year.”
This emphasis on parental involvement is a welcome shift from the past when parents were routinely, either intentionally or unintentionally, marginalized when it came to the formation of District policy that directly impacts their children’s academic achievement. As an example, the CPSD Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) “stakeholders” group was comprised of nearly 50% CPSD staff, 30% community members with a stake in EDI and less than 10% parents. You only have to read the news to see that the education establishment nationally has tried to distance parents from their children’s education, which they claim is the purview of educational professionals.
It is important to remember that merely espousing academic achievement and parental involvement is not enough. The systems developed and employed by the District must be designed for the actual accomplishment of these two objectives. If they are not so designed, the District will not be able to accomplish these objectives despite their best intentions.
If a system is flawed then all the money, people and equipment poured into that system will not change the results. Cadillac may make great cars, but you can’t drive one from Seattle to Honolulu: the wrong system to achieve the desired goal! Given the current level of District academic achievement and parental involvement some systemic changes are in order.
But at least this emphasis could be the start of something good.