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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A New Vision for the SFPAC

The School-Family Partnership Advisory Committee met last night. Among the topics we discussed was a new Vision for the Committee.

Membership
In addition to the individuals who volunteer and serve on the Committee we would like to see the Committee have members who are delegates from the various advisory and advocacy groups in the District. Groups like the Seattle Council PTSA, the Special Education PTA, the GLBTQ Advisory Committee, the APP Advisory Committee, the Spectrum Parent Advisory Panel, the Migrant Education Parent Advisory Council, the Native American/Alaskan Native Advisory board, the Alternative Education Committee, CPPS, Powerful Schools and all of the others. There are a lot of them. In case you're thinking that this would be a pretty big committee with 30-40 people, yes, I think it would. We need that many to be representative and we will need that many to do more work.

Purpose
There are a lot of things that the District does that they want - and need - to engage the community about. Every Board Action Item Report has a space for Community Engagement. But it can be difficult and expensive for the various District departments to stage an open house or a forum for every little thing they want to do. It would be more efficient for them to be able to bring those initiatives to the School-Family Partnerships Advisory Committee, share them there, and get some authentic feedback. This has the potential to strongly increase the number of District efforts that benefit from some kind of community engagement that would otherwise have none. The Committee can also recommend the extent of further community engagement needed for the initiative. In addition to the staff using the Committee as a resource - a relatively quick, cheap and easy means for getting community feedback - the Committee could also invite representatives to come to the Committee and report. I could definitely see how the Committee would like a report from the High School Steering Committee, the Program Placement Committee, and the folks working on Curricular Alignment, just to name three examples.

Practice
While it is all still very sketchy, the rough idea would be that staff would present to the Committee and would engage the Committee members in Q & A. At the next month's committee meeting the members would discuss the project again - after having a chance to confer with their constituents. The Committee would then draft a brief report on the initiative which would become part of the record and would be included with the documents provided to the Board with an Action Item Report. We would not rely on the staff to accurately characterize the content of the Committee's feedback. This is one of the reasons to have a larger committee - many hands make light work and there would be two to four reports to write every month.

I think that this is the formula for an effective and valuable Committee that would be well-positioned to provide benefits to the District, the students, and the community.

I put this out to get feedback and also as part of the recruitment effort. I would really like to put together a list of the various advisory and advocacy groups in the District.

7 comments:

seattle citizen said...

I believe that the African American Community Action Team, led by district staff Dawn Marie Bennett, is affiliated with the SFPAC already, but it might be worthwhile to make sure a representative form the AACAT is on the SFPAC.

Dorothy Neville said...

Any thoughts on having someone whose children are no longer students? Someone who has had one or more kids go through the system would have a longer term knowledge and no current ax to grind, so could have a beneficial perspective.

seattle citizen said...

I'd also like to see a member from one of the anti-gang groups on the committee. Have you read the papers lately?

We need to have schools present public, unified, active fronts against gang action and mentality; we need schools to stand up and say, "no!"

Syd said...

I think this is a wonderful, positive idea.

Charlie Mas said...

It would be good and useful to have a list of all of the advisory and advocacy groups. And it would be good and useful for them to have a place where they could all send representatives to meet.

TechyMom said...

Very nice. It seems a nice, efficient, way to gather input from a wide variety of constiutents. I would also suggest that you allow individuals to join meetings and raise issues, and to have DIALOGUE about those issues in the meeting, not just a 3-minute speech.

Charlie Mas said...

Absolutely, TechyMom. There will be dialog. That's what it is about.