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Parent Engagement Lab NYC Dec 2012

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This slideshow presentation describes the rationale and process behind NYCpublic.org's first Parent Engagement Lab. It also includes a compendium of the ideas that parents generated at the Lab in …

This slideshow presentation describes the rationale and process behind NYCpublic.org's first Parent Engagement Lab. It also includes a compendium of the ideas that parents generated at the Lab in response to the organizing question "What might 'real' parent engagement look like in NYC’s public schools?"

We created the slideshow in November 2013 for presentation at Talking Transition, the ambitious attempt to bring ordinary citizens into NYC's mayoral transition process.

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  • I’m Dionne Grayman, and I am the Director of _____________ at NYCpublic.orgWe are so excited to be here at Talking Transition. Thank you to everyone here for helping us with the set-up and for answering all of our questions. The people of this city are excited about what is happening in this space, but I think they are also excited about an opportunity to be in a conversation with the new administration. In case anyone is wondering if New Yorkers want to work together and in partnership with our leaders to make our city better for all of us, this tent is confirmation that this idea is alive, well, and welcome. Before we get started we want to learn a little bit about who is here with us today. Raise your hand if you are public school parentRaise your hand if you are someone who really want to listen to public school parents’ ideas Raise your hand if you were with us last year on December 8th? (so these are some of the the parents who generated the ideas we will be talking about today)
  • At this particular event, we were asking parents to try to answer the question “How might real parent engagement look under the next mayor?” We didn’t want people to have to rely only on what they already knew and could bring to the table. We wanted them to start from a place where they had some context for the question. So we began the day with a speaker panel where parents learned about the history of parent engagement in NYC, the technicalities of the mayoral control law, and how parent engagement looks in places other than NYC.
  • After hearing the speakers, we broke into groups where parents made specific notes about how existing policies affect them.
  • Unfortunately, they experienced frustrations at pretty much every level of the system. (Read slide)
  • But this wasn’t just a bitch session. We got to work thinking about how to overcome these frustrations.
  • These would be presented out at the end of the day. In this picture, the woman you see is a “graphic facilitator.” We think that strong visuals can really help people see the big picture—and details. And there is something about seeing your ideas represented visually that makes you feel like they could move from beyond your imagination and actually become possible.
  • This was exciting because it proved that this wasn’t just an academic exercise. Those ideas are now in the ether…
  • The presentations the final step on the day of the actual PEL, but it wasn’t the end because we didn’t just want all those great ideas to just live and die in that room. So…When we packed up, we collected all those hundreds of post-its and drawings and began the long process of sifting through and documenting.
  • Not only does engaging in this way feel good. It foster new relationships across communities. There is also a body of research that says that engaging parents in this way is the key to improving our schools.“…what is needed to improve schools is an active citizenry, invested in solving educational problems through public deliberation.”- Kenneth Howe and David Meens, Democracy Left Behind, 2012
  • We’ll tell you more about last year’s parent engagement lab in a moment, but for those of you who are new to NYCpublic.org. This is what we are about.  Slide 2NYCpublic.org’s projects (currently or will in the future) enable public school parents to:·      connect across economic, social and ethnic groups, and geographical districts·      learn about education policy issues, build solutions, and take action·      benefit from one another’s vast expertise·      use a wide variety of online and offline tools to maximize the reach of their parent-led campaignsHere are some examples of what we are doing-- or will be doing once we are fully funded:We are building an online platform that will include issue briefs on education policies, a clearinghouse of parent organizing group and ways you can connect with them.This winter we are working to put up resources for school PACs (parent action committees or coalistions) so they can learn from each other and we can grow more PACs in schools.And we are doing more parent engagement labs like the one we are about to present. We have one planned with CEC 1 to help them engage the community as they think about a new school space and program in their district.We also plan to do parent engagement labs at the school level – entitle “parents welcome here” this idea grew out of the lab we are about to present. Parents welcome here is a ½ day event where parents and school staff tackle some challenge together (like food waste in the cafeteria) and in the process start to see themselves as more of a community.  
  • We’ll tell you more about last year’s parent engagement lab in a moment, but for those of you who are new to NYCpublic.org. This is what we are about.  Slide 2NYCpublic.org’s projects (currently or will in the future) enable public school parents to:·      connect across economic, social and ethnic groups, and geographical districts·      learn about education policy issues, build solutions, and take action·      benefit from one another’s vast expertise·      use a wide variety of online and offline tools to maximize the reach of their parent-led campaignsHere are some examples of what we are doing-- or will be doing once we are fully funded:We are building an online platform that will include issue briefs on education policies, a clearinghouse of parent organizing group and ways you can connect with them.This winter we are working to put up resources for school PACs (parent action committees or coalistions) so they can learn from each other and we can grow more PACs in schools.And we are doing more parent engagement labs like the one we are about to present. We have one planned with CEC 1 to help them engage the community as they think about a new school space and program in their district.We also plan to do parent engagement labs at the school level – entitle “parents welcome here” this idea grew out of the lab we are about to present. Parents welcome here is a ½ day event where parents and school staff tackle some challenge together (like food waste in the cafeteria) and in the process start to see themselves as more of a community.  
  • If youbrought a 1 minute speech on education or if you want to write one now, there is a soapbox in the forum across the way where you can say your peace.If you didn’t sign up to be on our mailing list or to volunteer, please do so.This is the beginning of a new era of parent engagement. We will be working in this way for years to come and we hope that the de Blasio administration comes to the table as soon as possible.
  • Transcript

    • 1. NYCpublic.org’s Parent Engagement Lab: a parent-centered process to yield multiple ideas for genuine parent engagement in NYC schools November 2013
    • 2. NYCpublic.org used the following slideshow as part of its Talking Transition presentation (11/21/13). *** A project of the Fund for the City of New York, NYCpublic seeks to connect parents: to the issues they care about, to other parents who share their concerns, to ways of taking action, and to resources and organizations that can make their actions even more powerful.
    • 3. Table of Contents 5-8 Overview 9 Why a Parent Engagement Lab? 10-19 The PEL Process: Step-by-Step 18-20 Research Basis and Reaction 22-53 Compendium of Ideas Generated at the PEL 54-57 About NYCpublic.org 3
    • 4. “The idea was that if you give parents better results, better service — 311 sorts of things — and more choice, then you don’t need politics, they don’t need participation, they don’t need to be involved because they’ll get what they want as a consumer,” Jim Liebman [former Chief of Accountability, NYCDOE] said. “And I think that’s true for some things, but it turns out that public education is something that parents really, deeply want to be involved in.” -- Gotham Schools, 11/20/13 4
    • 5. 5
    • 6. What might “real” parent engagement look like in NYC’s public schools?
    • 7. parents from all boroughs attended 4 mayoral campaigns sent candidates or staff parents from all boroughs attended 160 “solutions” were generated 160 4 mayoral campaigns sent candidates or “solutions” were staff generated 7
    • 8. Three Goals of the Day Re-envision parent engagement in NYC public schools Model a new process for parent engagement Present parents’ solutions to mayoral candidates 8
    • 9. Why a Parent Engagement Lab? The Parent Engagement Lab is NYCpublic’s version of the charrette. The charrette, a structured brainstorming protocol with roots in architecture, invites full participation and collaboration between diverse stakeholders. Parent Engagement Labs support parents as they move from identifying challenges to building solutions (together). 9
    • 10. Step 1: A panel of experts spoke to participants about the current state of parent engagement in NYC and beyond. Lisa Donlan, CEC 1 President Fran Huckaby, Professor of Education at TCU How has mayoral control impacted parents’ access to power and input into decision making? N YC SCH O O L GOVERN AN CE How are parents organizing & engaging across the country to improve schools? MAYO R parent, teacher and community involvement structure Chancellor PEP Panel on Educational Policy DO E Depar tment Of Education CITYW IDE DFACE Division of Family And Community Engagement COMMUN ITY U FT DR UFT District Rep SCH OOL CPAC Chancellor’s Parent Advisor y Council U FT Chapter Leader CCELL Citywide Council English Launguage Learners Presidents Council DLT District Leadership Team CCSE Citywide Council on S pecial Education CCH S Citywide Council on High S chools CDS Community District S uperintendent CDEC Community District Education Council DFA District Family Advocate Title One DPAC Principal Parent (Teacher) Association SLT S chool Leadership Team Title One PAC PC Parent Coordinator Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children Under mayoral control law, what powers are legally accorded to parents? 10
    • 11. Step 2: In breakout groups, participants identified the impacts of the current parent-engagement model. 200 post-its captured over 200 “impacts.” 11
    • 12. Participants noted impacts anywhere that parents interact with the school system. at the school level (e.g., language barriers make it hard to have in-depth conversations about their child’s progress, or to participate in the PTA) at the district level (e.g., parents are not consulted for key district decisions like what kinds of new schools are needed or where to site them) at the central level (e.g., parents are seen as a group to be managed and policies are rolled out without parents’ input) 12
    • 13. Step 3: Groups brainstormed solutions that addressed the challenges identified in the first session and suggested ways forward for the next mayor. 13
    • 14. Some of the ideas that emerged The mayor could adopt the following approaches to his new job: See himself as working in service of the schools and not as someone who must control them; Create policies that come from a variety of stakeholders, educators, parents, administrators, com munity members, and experts in the field; Appoint an educator to the position of Chancellor. 14
    • 15. Step 4: Breakout groups each selected one idea to flesh out and worked with a graphic designer to illustrate and clarify their idea. 15
    • 16. Step 5: Breakout groups present “big ideas” to mayoral candidates or their representatives. 16
    • 17. Step 6: Every post-it and drawing was collected. Documentation of parents’ collaboration ensures continued life for their ideas. 17
    • 18. There is a research-base for this method of engagement. “…what is needed to improve schools is an active citizenry, invested in solving educational problems through public deliberation.” - Kenneth Howe and David Meens, Democracy Left Behind, 2012 18
    • 19. The feedback on the process was very positive, as well. “This was a really authentic process where ideas and input came from the ground up from parents who are out there every day. [This is] a wonderful start...and the type of dialogue that needs to happen throughout the city and that I think will be really helpful … to all of the candidates.” Jan Atwell City Council Education Policy Analyst 19
    • 20. We promised that we would share the day’s outcomes with the next mayor. 20
    • 21. COMPENDIUM Answers to the question “What might ‘real’ parent engagement look like under the next mayor?” All ideas* generated during the NYCpublic.org Parent Engagement Lab (charrette) December 2012 *These have been sorted and categorized. • 21
    • 22. Category 1 Create structures that prioritize/privilege parent engagement.
    • 23. Strengthen the current structure to meaningfully include parents or work to change the structure. “Accountability” should include how well a school or the system invites and listens to parents’ voices. Publish a “report card” for parent engagement at each school determined by authentic parent surveys and input. Create a citywide leadership team where all constituents (parents, students, teachers, principals, advocates) weigh in on policy issues. Establish regular “town meetings” where the mayor just listens to issues. He or she can start the next meeting by recounting what he or she heard and what his or her progress is on each issue. Establish office hours where reps or the mayor hears from parents. 23
    • 24. Create a truly inclusive system that mandates real parent and community input in decisions at the school, district, or city level. Provide for (parent involvement) as a line in each school’s budget to pay for trainers and technical assistance (same as DYCD and other agencies that provide services through CBOs). Create a parent feedback system that is not attached to the Progress Report. Each school could create a shared project with teachers and parents (this could be about any issue in the school, like how to create less waste at lunch) with the goal of fostering communication and collaboration. Each cabinet member is given the task to meet with 100 parents, each year, to discuss and debate policies. Create real/meaningful volunteer roles for parents and provide training support. Train school personnel on the rights of children and parents, respect and friendliness. 24
    • 25. Category 2 Take steps to guarantee that parents on School Leadership Teams (SLTs) have a real voice in school level decisions.
    • 26. Implement the enforcement of legislated avenues for parent input. Ensure real well-functioning SLTs. Give SLTs members comprehensive training so they understand the potential of their role and can make meaningful contributions. Principals should not chair SLTs. Add evaluation of power sharing on SLT to the Quality Review. Comprehensive Education Plans (CEPs) should be streamlined and re-evaluated, and should play a role in school/principal evaluations. 26
    • 27. Category 3 Take a close look at PTAs across the city and find ways to strengthen them all.
    • 28. Help PTAs get a sense of how well they are functioning in relation to other PTAs. Offer those that are struggling or whoever wants it opportunities for support. Institute Peer-to-Peer exchange between PTAs where they share: Agendas Outreach Fundraisers Newsletters How to run meetings New PTA presidents are mentored by seasoned PTA presidents: Check to see that PTA Presidents Councils are functioning. Presidents Councils should let parents know their rights. Empower PTAs to function as key partners in school community. 28
    • 29. Category 4 Re-examine the role of Parent Coordinator.
    • 30. Parent coordinators should not report to the principal (conflict of interest). The parent coordinator’s focus should be on uniting and supporting parents. 30
    • 31. Category 5 Restructure so that elected bodies (Community Education Councils and the Panel on Educational Policy) act as checks and balances for the Mayor/Chancellor.
    • 32. Give Community Education Councils (CECs) authentic authority to impact decision making. Give CECs approval over co-locations and opening/closing/truncating schools. Elect CEC reps directly by all parents using cumulative voting. Empower CECs to roll call vote on Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) policies. Allow CECs to create job descriptions and supervise, inform, train and evaluate parent coordinators with input from PTAs. Re-make the PEP so that parent representatives are the majority and all members serve fixed terms. Put parents on the PEP -- should be like the School Leadership Team (SLT), where #Educators= #Parents Change supervision of Presidents Council to include PTA executive board. Give PEP appointees independence to not rubber stamp. Give up mayoral majority on the PEP. 32
    • 33. Category 6 Return power to superintendents.
    • 34. Let superintendents back in schools, supervising principals. Superintendent reports to the Community Education Council (CEC). Make the community superintendents the place where the buck stops for policy, budget, and complaints. Air complaints in public monthly meetings. 34
    • 35. Category 7 Mayoral control -- consider giving it up.
    • 36. Allow parents to create a survey to assess mayoral control Give power back to stakeholders and support the sunset of mayoral control Run schools with an elected school board just as the districts in NY state do 36
    • 37. Category 8 Define a new role for City Council and other elected officials.
    • 38. Give more elected power for checks and balances (City Council) Use local elected officials community-based expertise and invite them to influence policies 38
    • 39. Category 9 Create ways for parents to get answers and follow up.
    • 40. Create ombudspeople who can listen to complaints and direct parents to actual solutions. They should follow up (carry a caseload) too. Make ads and post them everywhere in various languages to notify parents of a hotline site where parents can go with their problems. Contact info should be posted clearly in each school office. Set up an anonymous hotline where parents can ask or tell their problems without fear of retribution. Require schools to post: name, address, phone # of troubleshooting offices in multiple languages. Create a “road map” for where parents can go with their concerns. 40
    • 41. Category 10 Create more independent, parentled support.
    • 42. Have Title I parent involvement money go to organizations controlled by parents, not the Department of Education. Contract with multiple outside organizations with parent-advocacy expertise. 42
    • 43. Category 11 Use charrettes, or convenings like them, to solicit real input.
    • 44. Mandate cross-district communications and meetings, for Community Education Councils, School Leadership Teams, PTA. Solicit input from parents in a real way and use this to make policy. Create a system of roundtables to invite input and allow that input to influence policy. Use networks to connect parents – create facilitated discussions. Institute Chancellor meetings with parents in every district, with translators, and report back to parents on result of concerns – may break into small groups with deputy chancellors and report back to group. Invest resources in winning the participation of many, many stakeholders. Have frequent events, maybe monthly even, that involve parents within a district, within a community, to have their voices heard on the issues that concern them. Use highly inclusive, participatory models like the charrette to rethink school placements, closures, and new school development. Treat new school placement and development as something whose success depends on early/deep Community Education Council/community input in the design phase. 44
    • 45. Category 12 Opening doors at the top will invite open doors in schools too.
    • 46. Inspire/make principals truly open their doors to all parents. Give parents greater access to their children’s classrooms so that they are able to observe how their children’s school is run. 46
    • 47. Category 13 Make it possible for parents who do not speak English as a first language to truly engage with their schools and the system.
    • 48. Have translators/dual language support so everyone is heard equally. (Just try and incorporate us!) Conduct meetings in the first language of parents and translate for English speakers. Create “translation squads.” Students get credit and are trained to be interpreters at all events and meetings (similar to “mouse squads”). Give grants to Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) for them to offer translation/interpretation services in schools. Work with parents who are bilingual and offer workshops. Hire staff (teachers, admin, etc.) who speak the languages of the community. The Department of Education (DOE) needs to make training school leaders truly inclusive (in terms of language and culture). 48
    • 49. Category 14 Explore/create policies that will make the system more equitable.
    • 50. Put integration back on the table as a priority. Create schools in all neighborhoods that parents would feel proud to send their kids to. Ask communities about what school they might want to see in their neighborhood and then request proposals that can meet this need. Look at special needs as a diversity and treat it as a civil rights issue. Provide adequate resources to children with disabilities, making parents sign off as a legitimate part of the process. Parents evaluate Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process/service.s Parents of children with special needs receive training that explains their rights. Leadership/parent development should include working across cultural differences. Make provisions for “Parent duty” (like the Family Leave Act). Require all employers in NYC to provide time for parents to participate in children’s schools. (Can be a voucher system.) 50
    • 51. Category 15 Create new web tools/social media outreach.
    • 52. Create/sponsor web-based tools for parent education and involvement for each school. Create local wikis/blogs. Create websites that allow parents to have a voice. Department of Education staff should monitor these and respond to questions and concerns. Fund tools that allow parents to connect remotely via blogs, community forums; share best practices from all schools. Provide innovative and concrete ways for parents to connect (for example, a group for kindergarten parents across the city). Notify and encourage all parents of their options for engagement in decision-making. 52
    • 53. NYCpublic.org’s projects enable public school parents to: learn about education policy issues connect and collaborate with other parents across geographical, economic, social, and ethnic divides maximize the reach of parent-led campaigns through a variety of online and offline tools build solutions and take action! 53
    • 54. What is NYCpublic.org up to right now? We are: Building an online platform that allows parents to learn, organize, and take action, Collaborating with CEC 1 to do a Parent Engagement Lab (PEL) focused on a new school space in their district, and Designing “Parents Welcome Here.” Essentially a school-based Parent Engagement Lab, Parents Welcome Here has parents and school staff come together to tackle a challenge, such as what to do about food waste in the cafeteria. This common cause promotes community-building and a sense of allyship. 54
    • 55. NYCpublic is proud to have received grants and donations from: Gale Brewer (during her tenor as a City Councilperson) Elance Estelle Harris Four & Twenty Blackbirds Renee Rosenberg Maizie and Sue Schaffner We are especially thankful to Jack and Helen Gorelick for their recent gift, to our fiscal sponsor, Fund for the City of New York, and to Talking Transition for providing us an inspirational space to share this report. We invite you to add your name to this list. 55
    • 56. Please stay in touch. info@NYCpublic.org

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