It’s evident that there are immense discrepancies in the quality of education that children receive within public school systems. Economic and social disparities have continuously stifled academic success for many students. Poorly distributed school budgets, minimal funding, in congruence with unfairly imposed expectations have caused many students to give up on pursuing more than what is expected. How do we improve this? What tools should school systems provide their students that are not necessarily considered financially privileged? It’s important to realize that it’s not just students who are being disadvantaged; it’s also entire communities of parents and teachers that battle unfairness and inequity everyday.
More than anything, it is of crucial importance to encourage open dialogue and an environment that facilitates trusting relationships between students and teachers. Teachers are a support system. They are not meant to only recite facts to students in hopes of absorption, nor are they meant to show care to students only between school hours. Students in low-income schools need the element of reliability in their day-to-day lives. It’s known to many that low-income schools face exponentially higher rates of attrition. Teachers come and go, and so do teacher-student relationships. This got me to thinking, why are we not actively pushing for policy that promotes teacher stability in urban schools? Or that incentivizes teachers to commit that additional bit of energy? How can we combat this instability in urban schools? It’s evident that teachers need a support system too, not just students, in order to succeed in these poorly funded communities that are burdened with negative stigmas and barriers to success.
Not only should we create policy that incentivizes teaching in low performing and low funded school systems, but we should also promote stronger teacher-parent relationships. Boston schools epitomize the commitment to parent involvement and teacher-parent relationships. It’s evident that parental involvement in education is reflected in student performance, which increases the importance of engaging with parents. The Boston Public School website highlights their main objectives; stronger relationships, creating a cohesive base of support for students, and having parents inextricably linked to their students education. It’s mandatory for teachers to set aside time to contact parents on a weekly basis, teachers frequently do home visits, and provide a detailed syllabus for all parents. The hope is to build the capacity of parents to support their students through all grade levels and experiences. If parents are more accountable for their children’s education, the students are more likely to succeed.
Every year Boston Public Schools hosts Parent University, a program that allows parents to gain insight on the inner workings of the school system. This free program also holds special seminars designated for bilingual parents and has flexible start times for parents who don’t work the typical 9:00am-5:00pm day. Many low income families find themselves working multiple jobs to make ends meet, making the time flexibility of Parent University and teacher visits extremely beneficial. It’s of crucial importance to find ways to cater to the needs of all families, especially one’s in low-income communities that seem to never have the necessary resources or tools for success. Many of these programs aren’t geared only towards parents. Some of the seminars allow for children to attend too, and engage in educational activities that help promote the understanding that parents not only advocate for their children but also learn alongside them.
It’s obvious that there are many beneficial policy initiatives not directly geared towards students. This leads me to wonder what opportunities are being neglected in school systems. Should we solely focus on policy that has a direct impact in schools? Or is it fair to assert that policy that starts in the community could have a beneficial trickle effect into schools?
If anyone has a response to my questions please feel free to respond!