May 24, 2022
Start with one high-needs school. Canvass the neighborhood. Find out what parents think they and their children need that might be supported out of the schoolhouse. Find agencies and volunteers to fill those needs. Empower parents and other neighborhood residents to help direct the effort. Change the culture.
This school turnaround model is based on success that Cincinatti has built – over a 20-year period – in improving educational outcomes for children. As Forum participant Ken Koontz wryly noted Tuesday morning, nearly all the pieces of the model have been tried in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Even today, CMS offices working on parent engagement and Title 1 schools have staff committed to school improvement. And Men Tchaas Ari, CEO of Communities in Schools, noted that his group has been supporting children for years in some of the ways contemplated in this next new answer.
But nobody has trumpeted success. There was talk about silos working independently, about lack of coordination. For Shamaiye Haynes, founder of the Charlotte Community Think Tank, success for children is the goal. Changing culture inside a school, to make it a place, as Haynes said, where the best teachers want to teach and others want to lead, is a major goal – and a prerequisite for children’s success.
Haynes’ groups aired a webinar in April on the Cincinnati experience. The 90-minute video is here on Facebook. Clips from that video were shown during Tuesday’s presentation.
Perhaps the Forum’s short exploration of this subject will whet the appetites of education advocates and reporters to dig into this model more. To explore the Cincinnati experience, to know what Ohio governmental support helped make it possible, and the crisis that motivated its leaders to embrace change. To explore costs of the intervention in great detail, and the costs of doing nothing in equal detail. To compare the model’s ambitions for high-needs children to what is already, routinely and reliably being delivered to children attending low-poverty CMS schools who are surrounded at home and at school by the wellness, counseling, stability and high expectations that this struggling venture hopes to deliver, beginning with a single school – while the crisis in education continues underaddressed in dozens of others.
Posted below the video of the Forum session are the slides from the presentation, including the excerpts from the Facebook webinar. The slides may be downloaded as a PDF here.