Meet the parents, part II

A few weeks ago, I posted about Sandra Tsing-Loh‘s plea to the new President to actually listen to parents when making education policy. My friend Lisa Schiff has a great column in BeyondChron this morning about the need for the school district to focus on better communication with parents and school communities:

Communication. It’s the Achilles Heel of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFSUD). Even in a near-utopian world of full funding and an equitable distribution of education resources, it would be a safe bet that on any given matter parents and school communities in the SFUSD would still only be brought into conversations about our children as an afterthought.

Serious communication breakdowns have occurred around decisions to move, close or co-locate schools, with administrators often blaming Prop. 39, a state law requiring districts to offer eligible charter schools adequate facilities, for tying their hands in these decisions. But in her close reading of Prop. 39, Lisa picks apart this argument. She writes:

[T]here is absolutely no reason why parents and communities can’t be involved and informed much earlier in these facilities decisions. A reasonable step would be to make public and easily accessible any actions associated with [Prop. 39] deadlines on the part of charter schools and the district.
. . .
Critics of charter schools may jump at this as an example of how charter schools make life difficult for public school systems, but that would be missing the point. The lack of communication with affected school families has nothing to do with the charter schools and everything to do with how frequently the district fails to support parents as decision makers concerning issues affecting their kids.

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