Involving the Whole Community in Student Success
Believe it or not, there are school districts in Oregon with 100% high school graduation rates—and many others over 90%. While David Douglas School District has its unique challenges, we should strive for these results. And I believe with greater community support, we can achieve them.
The responsibility for student success is shared—students, parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders, neighborhoods, civic organizations, and religious institutions all play a vital role. We need a culture of community-building, with children, families, neighborhoods, and schools at the center. As a David Douglas School Board member, I will work to increase parent involvement and partnerships with community-based organizations and businesses who share this vision.
Create New Avenues for Parent Inclusion
Parent engagement has long been recognized as one of the keys to achievement, graduation, and college access and success. Parent-teacher organizations and booster clubs offer time-tested engagement methods that encourage student and school success. They are important, and we need them. We likewise need new, culturally-responsive mechanisms that engage parents who have barriers to participating in these traditional groups. Having worked in multi-ethnic environments for over twenty years, I understand that parent engagement is viewed differently within various cultures, and I know what works.
Parent organizing and mobilizing is an area of major weakness within the district. Limited opportunities for family engagement exist outside the traditional structures. While teachers and administrators cite this as a concern, we have few effective methods of reaching into our very diverse, multilingual school communities. As a result, there is often a wide chasm between schools and their most vulnerable families—low income, students of color, and immigrants and refugees—the same families that benefit the most from enhanced family engagement. To address this, David Douglas School District should create more partnerships that provide ongoing leadership development, focused training on understanding the school system, and help establish peer-to-peer networks of support between families as they navigate through the K-12 system and into higher education. Such partnerships will enable families to bridge the cultural divide between our schools and the neighborhoods they serve.
As a David Douglas School Board member, I will set a high benchmark for developing new partnerships with community-based organizations, cultural and faith-based groups, businesses, and volunteer-led initiatives that can augment student support. I will use my decades of grant writing and fundraising experience to support our district's development staff in their efforts to seek resources for new and creative partnerships.