Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle will hold its annual meeting Monday to discuss new efforts to involve parents and community members more effectively in Seattle Public Schools.
Seattle Public Schools scarcely makes a move without some kind of “public engagement” to give parents and community members a chance to be heard.
But those meetings are futile if parents sense that the decision already has been made or if the debate has degenerated into a screaming match.
“We have tons and tons of community meetings,” said Stephanie Jones, executive director of Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle, a local chapter of the national Parents for Public Schools. “We have very little community participation in the decision-making.”
Her organization — founded in the wake of controversial school closings in Seattle about eight years ago — wants to get parents and community members involved much sooner to help solve problems instead of just reacting to district proposals.
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About 75 people, including school board and city council candidates, helped launch a new initiative on June 6 with a simple premise: “Solutions shouldn’t take families by surprise, or divide communities into factions.”
Those discussions will continue Monday at the organization’s annual meeting and open house in Seattle, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at Madrona Grace Church, 832 32nd Ave.
Also on the agenda: the first graduates of a parent involvement program imported from Chicago, featured in an Education Lab story last year, will talk about their experiences.
“We are the organization that has been replicating that model in Seattle,” Jones said. “We sent folks to Chicago to participate in their training and brought the curriculum back last fall.”
The organization trained eight parents at Dearborn Park International School and hopes to expand next year.
“We’ll be returning to Dearborn Park for a second year, and then adding at least one and maybe two schools in the fall,” Jones said.