When district leaders laid out their plans to close a record number of elementary schools, they promised that the new schools would be better academically than the ones being shuttered and rolled out plans to launch specialty programs in many of the welcoming schools.
Fifth-grade teacher Leland Sanford and Spanish teacher Christine Brown sat at his desk in the library, surrounded by brown boxes and barren walls. They were not happy. It was the Monday of the last week of school, and Sanford and Brown had just received letters saying that they wouldn’t find out for a few weeks whether they would have jobs in the fall.
Any adult who was successful in school will likely remember that their parents played a defining role in that success. What happens during the roughly six-hour school day is only part of the learning equation. Who else but a parent or guardian will make sure children attend school and complete their homework?
Research has shown that parent engagement is an essential component of school improvement. The schools that welcomed students displaced by dozens of closings have an especially tough task on this front: More than a third of them have weak parent involvement, according to a 2012 Consortium on Chicago School Research survey.