Charles Cole III, an educator and child advocate based in my second favorite city, Oakland (CA), wrote a blog last spring on Education Post that I thought was empowering to families with school-age children. To many families (and children for that matter), schools aren’t nearly as welcoming, let alone forthcoming and transparent with information about other people’s children, as they should be.
Charles shared five questions every parent should ask their child’s teachers and school. I shared it with our parent group and staff. In light of my school’s report card conferences today, I am sharing it here as well. Too often, there is a mentality of “drop your kids off here (school) and leave us alone. We will send them home with their homework.” Schools become bureaucracies that don’t serve as good partners because they are using confusing and myopic language and views. He encourages families and educators to add to his list of five questions every parent should ask their child’s teachers and schools.
So here are some questions we encouraged parents to ask teachers and schools to help our students succeed. Keep in mind these are a general set of questions that work regardless of the age and grade. It is also for any governance model of school, meaning it works across traditional public schools, charters schools and private schools. I know the education systems need to improve but I also believe parents should have a full toolkit.
Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter school in Philadelphia that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. From 2013-2015, he was one of three principal ambassador fellows working on issues of education policy and practice with U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.