Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Choosing Schools: Ways to get advice from other adults

Two weeks ago, Kidoinfo ran a piece I wrote up ideas about talking with other parents/adults about the schools in your area and the ways their experiences and ideas have such a strong influence on us. It's here. I was pleased with the result and especially with the comments, one of which suggested we needed a local online forum at which parents can ask questions about and discuss schools. At this stage, I don't have the bandwidth or tools to create that on this site, though that was and in some ways still is the aim of this highly intermittent blog project.

I think of San Francisco's Parents for Public Schools site and organization when I think of such an endeavor, and of course the amazing Inside Schools in New York City. Here's what I just belatedly added as a comment to the Kidoinfo piece:

I just noticed as I reread this piece to prepare for writing my next Kidoinfo piece that the long comment I submitted on 2/5 never posted! So sorry--I didn't mean to be silent in the presence of such thoughtful and useful comments. I wish I could recall the specifics of that comment, and do want to add that gut feeling does count for a lot, absolutely, and underscores the necessity of going to see for yourself.

Sarah and Beth, I often think about ways to create discussion within communities about school options. Some communities do have such a thing: I think of San Francisco's Parents for Public Schools website (http://www.ppssf.org/) which has a ton of resources that offer ways for parents to support public schools, be better advocates, and a members-only listserv with discussions about schools. There's another listserv on Yahoo called sfschools which serves this purpose (I think that many cities have this, I just happen to be dialed into that one because I used to live in SF). NYC has Inside Schools, (http://insideschools.org) which offers comprehensive reviews of and opportunities for online discussion about NYC's public schools.

We don't have a similar resource. This makes me think again about ways we could create one.
In order to figure out ways to make this happen, the steps are:
- Research what else is out there, what other cities have, talk with their founders and organizers
- Determine its utility: seems like it needs to be both an independent information resource and advocacy organization (advocating parental involvement, offering strategies and tools for parental/family involvement, pushing for a family/community-driven reform initiative).
- Get a grassroots initiative going
- Find sponsors/raise money. 

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