Thursday, October 01, 2009

Knox County Needs Parents for Public Schools

On Wednesday night the nice moderators of School Matters hosted a meeting at West High School. The purpose of the meeting was to hear from Anne Foster , Executive Director of a National organization called Parents for Public Schools.

The organization is headquartered in Jackson, MS. It began in 1989. They currently have chapters in Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Waco, TX, Columbia, MO and many others cities, towns and communities. Mrs. Foster became the Executive Director in January of this year. She began her passion for public education in Richardson, TX where she was a Realtor and the became a School Board Member and now leading a National Advocacy Organization.

There are differences in a PTA and the PPS.

PTA's connect parents to individual schools, they perform site based projects and provide luncheons for teachers.

PPS in connected to whole communities and brings parents and stakeholders to the table where decisions are made. Parents should have the right to be engaged, because it is our school system. The PPS primary role is public advocacy. They encourage chapters to reflect the diversity of the communities it represents.

The PPS also brings parents together and train them how to deal with the school district. This training is conducted at the PLI, Parent Leadership Institute it is a 3 weekends over several months. The training consist of teaching how to work with the states Accountability data, tests, curriculum, scores, ratings, where students fit into the their scores. They also teach as parents and stakeholders how request the test data that we are entitled to see. They also demonstrate how not to be intimidated by teachers and administrators and how to work successfully with the school board. Following the training, those that have been trained are committed to a 2 year project that must involve other parents/community members, must impact student achievement and be sustainable.

Commissioner Amy Broyles was in attendance at the meeting. Brian Hornback of Brian's Blog recommended to Commissioner Broyles that she and the other 18 County Commissioners should contribute $250 from their discretionary funds as start up money for a Knox County Chapter of Parents for Public Schools. That would give the local start up $4,750. Commissioner Broyles was supportive to the idea.

Thanks to School Matters Moderators Jamey Dobbs, Cathy McCaughan, Pamela Treacy and Lisa Starbucks for taking the intiative to bring this organization to Knox County. News Sentinel Reporters Lola Alapo and John were in attendance. School Board Member Karen Carson attended for the first 30 minutes.

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