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Tag Archive: Parent Nation

  1. Restoration over criminalization

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    Today we released a follow up to our community brief on school climate from last year about restorative practices in Pittsburgh Public Schools. In it, we discuss our findings from a survey and focus groups we conducted this past spring with parents and students in schools that are participating in a Department of Justice study into the impact restorative practices can have on improving school climates.

    Click here to download “Restoration over criminalization: An A+ Schools community brief.”

    While there is still much to learn about the efficacy of restorative practices in schools, it is a practice that is showing some promise locally and nationally. We would urge the school board to:

    1. Commit to implementing restorative practices in all schools by 2020, recognizing that students, staff, and parents will need to time to learn about and engage in using restorative practices within each school .

    2. Commit to provide ongoing support and training to all staff on restorative practices, and other social emotional behavioral supports .

    3. Stabilize principal leadership at schools by supporting building leaders to be effective and providing services and supports from central office that meet the unique demands of each school.

    We recognize that one size does not fit all when it comes to building school cultures that work for children. Implementing restorative practices in a manner that meets the needs of students, parents, and educators will be important to building long-term cultural change at each school. We hope PPS will continue to build upon what it has learned in the study to create school climates that seek to repair  and avoid harm.

    You can learn more about restorative practices and pushout by signing up for our email newsletter and taking part in community trainings being conducted by Parent Nation and TeenBloc.

  2. Stronger advocacy with you

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    This past Sunday, A+ Schools was featured on the front page of the Post-Gazette. We’re truly grateful for the recognition of our work on an important issue like making sure all students benefit from high quality instruction.

    We know that teaching is the most important job in Pittsburgh. Research shows that teachers are the SINGLE most important school factor in a child’s success.  And in Pittsburgh, we know that our most effective teachers can get students to learn almost twice as much compared to a failing teacher in a single school year.

    As an organization that’s focused on equity, we’re highly concerned that furloughing teachers based on seniority only disproportionately affects our most vulnerable schools – like King, Westinghouse, and Faison – where more than 40% of teachers were furloughed in 2012. High poverty schools have higher numbers of new teachers. Teacher layoffs based on seniority are disruptive and unfair to students, teachers and principals, and important gains by teachers and students year over year can be lost.

    We’ve supported efforts locally and at the state level to try to change these policies to be able to limit the disproportionate impact of furloughs on our most vulnerable students.   While changing these policies is critically important, it is not the only solution.  We know that mission driven schools, where a high performing principal and great teachers are working together to create positive teaching and learning environments, where parents are active and engaged and where students are partners in their own education – these are places where teachers want to teach and students can learn and staff turnover can be minimized.

    Creating mission driven schools with positive teaching and learning environments is why we work with parents who want to play a bigger role in their children’s schools as advocates and support the staffs at those schools to support learning through Parent Nation. Creating mission driven schools is why we support student leaders in TeenBloc who want to end zero tolerance policies in their schools that push children out and have little impact on improving learning.  We’ll continue to provide our community high quality research and analysis about what works in schools so we can advocate for change based on data.

    Our Board Chair said it best when she wrote to the Post-Gazette today, “We take a holistic approach — most of the work of the organization is alongside parents and youth in some of our most challenging schools supporting them as they advocate for quality and change.” We’re lucky to be able to do this work with such an involved community. And we’ll continue to fight for students with your support.

  3. Latino Parents Unite for School Year Kickoff

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    Latino Parents United in Action kick off the school year with gathering
    Parent group working to improve engagement between schools and community

    PITTSBURGH, PA – August 20, 2014 – Families from across Pittsburgh gathered today for activities, food and to share resources before the beginning of the school year. While back to school events happen across the city every year, this one is remarkable because for the first time, the audience is primarily Spanish speaking parents and families who have children in Pittsburgh Public Schools.

    “We wanted to get families together so we could better know the schools, and for the schools to better know our community,” said one parent. “Better communication about our schools is very important for the Latino community,” she added.

    LPUA began as a collaborative project between parents, many from Beechwood elementary in Beechview, the Latino Family Center (a project of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit), Vibrant Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ English as a Second Language Office, and A+ Schools. These groups came together over a year ago in order to “improve the quality of education of the youth and Latino children,” said another parent. After multiple meetings and trainings this past year, LPUA applied and won a grant from A+ Schools’ Parent Action Fund to hold a kickoff to the school year that would serve as a way to introduce themselves to more parents and to help grow their network of Latino families.

    In addition to the educational benefits of parental involvement and advocacy for their children, there is the added economic value that additional families in Pittsburgh can bring. “Building and supporting families is critical to the successful integration of newcomers into our community,” said Melanie Harrington, President and CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh.  “As we support healthy engaged parents and healthy engaged students in our schools, it will ultimately result in the attraction of more Latinos to our region. This is necessary if we want to ensure our region’s long term economic competitiveness and economic viability.”

    Parents on hand at the kickoff were able to meet with principals and staff from the schools where their children attend, get information from organizations like A+ Schools, the Education Law Center, and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services about parental rights and opportunities to get involved. “We want parents to know that they have a voice and a say” in their child’s education, said Maria.

    The group plans to continue to meet throughout the year to provide training, share common concerns, and work together to advocate on behalf of their children in the schools. “We’re looking forward to getting to know more parents and learn more about what we can do for our children,” said Josue, a parent at Beechwood.