Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What African-American Parents Believe about Ed Reform

This is a very interesting report from June of this year.  I found it quite telling especially since I hear this from some African-American parents as well as leaders (I have heard Trish Dziko from TAF Academy say this).   The report is through the United Negro College Fund.

What is it they are saying?  It's right in the title,  
"Done to Us, Not with Us: African American Parent Perceptions of K-12 Education."

From the Summary:

There were three key themes that emerged from our research:
  1. When we talk about educational disparities that exist across ethnic groups, we often start by saying that many low-income African-American communities need to raise their educational aspirations and aim for a college degree rather than just a high school diploma. But our research challenges that notion, showing that 87% of African-American parents and caregivers surveyed already want their children to graduate from college.
  2. The way many African-American parents and caregivers select schools may be working against the college aspirations they have for their children. An overwhelming majority of parents surveyed (87%) select schools based on “safe, secure, violence-free environment,” prioritizing this need over other measures of school quality more strongly correlated with college readiness. In addition, data on school quality in the districts where we recruited survey participants indicate that students are largely underserved by their local schools. Yet a strong majority of parents and caregivers (80%) rated their children’s school as “excellent” or “pretty good,” even though 41% of those surveyed believe that schools in their local communities are not doing a “good” or “excellent” job of college preparation. This expectation gap can be setting African-American children up for failure.
  3. When we asked parents about what comes to mind when they hear the term “education reform,” most parents surveyed didn’t respond positively and there was no consensus on the meaning of the term. Many felt that there is a lot of discussion regarding the changes needed but that in reality, very little changes for their children. However, 62% of parent respondents believed that public school reform efforts would be improved if there were more African-American leaders driving change. Specifically, parents view members of the faith community and other parents as the most trustworthy sources to drive systems change and communicate information related to supporting their children’s educational journey.
Building high-quality schools and providing parents with choice is not enough. Parents have high aspirations for their children and recognize the importance of attending college to achieve their dreams. But they struggle to translate these ambitions into specific steps that will prepare their children for success. With these survey findings in mind, Monitor Institute sees a number of ways that we and other actors in education reform should take a different approach when engaging African-American parents:
  • We should empower parents with an easy to understand “checklist” of the steps they should take to prepare their children for success.
  • We should forge a greater sense of partnership between parents and schools to ensure that all children can successfully navigate the college-going process.
  • We should recognize that messengers matter. Parents distrust systems that have a track record of failing to serve them well. We need to leverage trustworthy messengers, such as faith leaders and experienced parents, who understand the day-to-day realities of African-American parents and are positioned to help them navigate the educational system and college going process.


Jet City mom said...

*However, 62% of parent respondents believed that public school reform efforts would be improved if there were more African-American leaders driving change*

Just curious, but by going by the past leadership at the helm in Seattle, is there a reason parents believe that AA administrators are more effective than anyone else?

Jet City mom said...
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Jon said...

Seems to me that there's little difference between what African-American parents want and what non-African-American parents want. Top three things in the report, those surveyed wanted a safe school (87%) with high graduation rates (69%) and high test scores (59%). Is that any different than what all parents want?

I'm not saying anything against the report, but dividing us up into categories isn't accomplishing anything. All parents want the same thing, safe, happy, successful children. And most of us want that for all the children in Seattle Public Schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

You'd have to read the report to see the somewhat subtle differences/emphasis about what they want and need.

Charlie Mas said...

Yeah, empower parents, forge that greater sense of partnership, and choose the right messengers. Sure, do all that.

But then you also need to change what happens in the classrooms. Don't forget that part.