We Are All in This Together
By Rich Bagin, APR, Executive Director of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA)
True collaboration is making a critical difference as school leaders, business leaders, and community and government officials wrap their arms and services around the school children in their respective communities.
For years, many educators have talked about school performance increasing as a result of stronger family involvement. We all know this works and most systems strive every day to get more parents involved. But the collaboration we see in some pockets of our country practice what I call an "ALL-IN" approach to meeting the diverse needs of many of their children.
If more districts would help break down their own silos as well as those in their greater communities, we all could all start making the kind of difference we are seeing in the Say Yes to Education program in five cities, the city-wide Cradle to College Program in Cincinnati, and the 100% Graduation Project program in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System in Clarksville, Tennessee. Elements of each of these programs can work for your schools and we urge you to find out more about them.
You will see that these programs brought key community, government, and business leaders together and asked them to commit to find ways to do more for their children. Going way beyond traditional classroom instructional programs, they provide "wraparound" services that address their families' physical health and emotional needs. They provide additional counseling and mentoring to fill gaps. They provide or help find resources to make it all happen.
They are "ALL-IN" when it comes to providing the help and programs children need to overcome the poverty, health, and education climate disadvantages they have been facing.
Some amazing characteristics stand out in these programs. Negative political posturing and budget battles diminish as all school and community agencies focus on solving the same problems. In some of these programs, local government officials have used their budgets to provide more counseling and other services for the schools. The result is less bureaucracy and duplication and more efficient services for all kids.
Local government leaders provide visible positive support through their actions. They too understand that more productive students will make their communities and their local economy prosper.
In Clarksville, Tennessee, they note,
When a community believes in something and takes responsibility for making it happen, great things can take place.
And those "great things" translate into increased student achievement, a stronger local economy, increased civic pride, and a recognized fact that our future is better when we are all in this together.
Views expressed in this post are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or any of its members.