Parents as Partners - Community Conversation Notes – April 6, 2013
Parents of schoolchildren in this country (especially in cities with high poverty rates, such as Detroit) are often dismissed by school administrators and teachers as uninvolved and ignorant. The notion is that they seem satisfied with a less-than-mediocre education for their children and that the job of the school is to save these poor children from their home environments.
We are finding the opposite to be true in the last three years of planning the Boggs School. In that time, we have held ten community conversations and knocked on the majority of the doors of the school’s neighborhood. We have experienced nothing but a healthy skepticism in parents, as evidenced in the questions raised in our latest Community Conversation, held April 6, at the Church of the Messiah.
The conversation was focused on the specific questions people had about the Boggs School and the desires they had for a community-based school such as ours.
The group in attendance was a typical mix of Detroit residents—a variety of ethnicities, cultures, classes, and genders. There were moms, dads, grandparents, former teachers, current teachers, community residents, and general supporters of the Boggs School’s mission and model. The questions they all raised were pointed and specific and spoke directly to the desire for the type of education that meets the needs of our children academically, as well as emotionally and physically. And what is clear coming out of the conversation is that Detroit parents want their children to be well educated. We were asked questions like: Why should I trust you with my child? Will the academics be competitive with other schools? How will you create community in the school? Will there be reading packets for parents and discussions with us about your model?
It is clear from the conversation that families want their children to love school and be academically challenged by it. They want to be seen as partners with the school in the education of their children.
And this is what the Boggs School is excited to deliver. We want to partner with parents and families and neighbors. As teachers, we crave the chance to create a learning environment where students feel engaged and challenged by the work that they do and the amount that they’re learning. And we want that work to benefit the community and grow all our souls in the process.
As we get closer and closer to opening and open ourselves to community questions, we are reminded that our goal was never to plunk a perfect school in the middle of a neighborhood and say, “Come, everyone…enjoy.” Our goal was always to build the school WITH and FOR the community, to have the school be a constant work in progress through the collective efforts of people willing to engage in the very human work of building towards the future.