Spent the day at the Mayor's Education Summit hosted by Jacksonville's Mayor and the Superintendent. I was invited to participate in a workshop about How to Increase Parental Involvement in our Schools - a topic I certainly care about.
The room included many high profile people including the School Board, PTA, and head of many of the non-profit and faith-based groups in our county. Our own MARC was represented by our own Liz Duncan. The idea was to get everyone together, identify the problems and make recommendations for solutions.
A couple of things hit me at the conference: 1) With our growing Hispanic population, that minority group seemed to be grossly underrepresented. 2) There seemed to be lots of fragmented and duplicated services and there certainly is a need - and a cry for - some type of local Clearinghouse. There is a huge lack of infrastructure for communicating what is available and how to access services. 3) The MARC should be the prototype for the type of grassroots services that work - that combine school (Chets Creek), community (ARC), faith (BUMC, Eleven 22, Church at Chets Creek), and funding (Mckenzie Wilson Foundation) to provide holistic services on-site. They should be the model for how to get and support services that meet a community's need!
I've lived in Jacksonville for a long time and the problems in education have always been huge, seemingly insurmountable in some areas as evidenced by our continuing failing school. It seems like every so often the bigwigs get together and put a lot of lip service to all that is going to be done and then the results... dismal and fragmented. It always seemed like a lot of posturing and egos to me without real community passion or support. So, is there any reason to believe this time will be different? We do have a new Superintendent and we do have a Mayor with passion... and I guess being an optimist, I always have hope. I have to believe that the destiny of these two men is intertwined for such a time as this. I want the district to shine as bright from the inside out as I think my school shines. I want the same collegial, family feel in every school that I have each and every day and I want every teacher, parent and child to know that if there is a problem, there is someone there to help. Is that too much to ask?