Improving the work of school site councils

SFUSD parent Don Krause has written a guest “School Beat” column on Beyond Chron, detailing areas where the district’s support of site councils has broken down, and issuing a call to action for parents to get involved in these important governing bodies.

For years, SFUSD delegated the job of the site council mandate to its school principals and turned a blind eye to any further District accountability. With principals left to do as they may, parent activists should take umbrage at such unmanaged authority in their children’s schools, where District supervisors rarely tread.

Varying only to the degree that a school principal welcomes community involvement, site councils are most often a formality in the bureaucratically arcane and boilerplate academic planning process, with parent input sidelined as advisory in nature. This is a far cry from the grassroots reform that was envisioned when education researchers first promoted school governance through site councils as the front line in education reform. In the late1970’s the legislature, citing this research, created school site councils as part of the School Improvement Program and, since then, repeatedly renewed it.

Parents: your school’s Site Council is a legally-mandated body and there are a number of ways you can affect your school’s climate, curriculum and policy if you participate. Parents for Public Schools-San Francisco offers a wonderful training program for parents who want to learn more about participating in their site councils; contact them for more information. It’s also important to know that language, schedules or childcare should not be a barrier for parents to participate in the work of site councils: many schools hold their meetings at night, and provide interpretation and childcare so that the meetings are accessible to everyone. Talk to your principal if you or other parents at your school are experiencing these kinds of barriers to participation.


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