Further support for my point about parental involvement being key to a successful school, The Inquirer recently published a story about Andrew Jackson Elementary in South Philadelphia, Parents Work to Rejuvenate a Public School. Link corrected 12/28/2010. Basically, the parents got together and created a list of things that they needed to do to improve the school. Now, they are taking steps to enact those changes. Guided in part by the book How to Walk to School: Blueprint for a Neighborhood Renaissance by Jacqueline Edelberg, these parents (and their organization, the Passyunk Square Civic Association) are banding together to improve their school one new science lab, garden, library at a time. The result is not only a better school, but a better neighborhood.
I wrote before about how going local for education as a movement is problematic for me. To summarize my sentiments, I want to advocate for better local schools, but not be an activist with my child’s education for the sake of being local. The people at the Passyunk Square Civic Associate, Andrew Jackson Elementary, and the author Jacqueline Edelberg (who was part of a similar undertaking in inner-city Chicago) have the right idea I think. Recruiting parents to go local for education is great, but you won’t see more families choosing the school until you make the school better. Get local families involved in that effort and you will win them over enough to send their kids. Do that, and you can win over the rest of the neighborhood parents.