Janette Beaton moved her child to Haines from National Teacher’s Academy in part, she says, because of the lack of stability at the Academy. She believes neighborhood gentrification has a major impact on education. In the Academy’s surrounding neighborhood, Beaton notes, “you had public housing being demolished and families didn’t even know if they would be at the school the next year. If you’re a parent concerned about housing, it’s hard to concentrate on [your child’s] education. And it was hard to have my daughter focus on education when she heard kids saying, “We’re going to move.” Beaton is a parent leader with the Grand Boulevard Federation.
KEEPING KIDS SAFE
If schools don’t have the training [to deal with conflict], working with youth groups or community groups or the police department comes in. Get people in to help.
BOOSTING PARENT INVOLVEMENT
I spent the last two years in the [Haines] school library. That’s where I know I can always come in and volunteer. If parents are told specific things they can do when they come into the school, they may be more likely to come in.
IMPROVING COMMUNICATION WITH PARENTS
We need a hotline that you can call and say, “Look, this is what’s going on in my school, how can you help me?”
NO EXTENDED DAY
What’s the purpose of keeping kids longer if we have a system that’s not quite working educationally? We’re constantly talking about test scores but I don’t know if it’s the time that they’re in school versus having quality teachers. Students need the break.
ASSESSING RENAISSANCE 2010
Now there’s competition between charters and neighborhood schools to get the best kids. Schools are fighting for high-scoring students, but nobody is really fighting to educate children. Bringing a charter school into the community and saying, “Oh, you’re going to have greater opportunities for education right in the neighborhood” sounds good. But why doesn’t the district work within the existing schools? And to get in [to the new schools], you have to network. It makes it easier when you know somebody who can tell you the steps and help you with the application process. A parent might not have the skills to fill out the application.
We make assumptions about why kids drop out, but actually go find those children and ask them why they quit. Did they transfer to another school? Did they move? Was it a gang problem? A violence or safety issue? All of that comes into play when you’re traveling from point A to point B trying to get to school. You drop out because you give up, because you cannot get to school. And that’s because you can’t just automatically go to your neighborhood school.