Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Clusters of Confusion: Why Should Parents Care?

I've heard several people ask a similar question, one that applies to just about every elementary school: how come elementary and high school PTAs are kept separate? It seems that as soon as parents really begin to understand what is going on at their elementary school, they are suddenly no longer involved because their kids have moved on. It seems that schools prefer that parents not have access to information about what has gone on previously at the school. The teachers, of course, have that information, since they often stay at one school for decades.

Clusters of Confusion: Why Should Parents Care?
December 13, 2010
by Bey-Ling Sha

I'm really confused about the cluster stuff coming out of the San Diego Unified School District these days. I'm talking about the nine areas into which the school district is now administratively divided, along with correspondingly nice salaries for each area superintendent, not to mention their discretionary funds.

In his recent post, parent-blogger Paul Bowers highlighted the Point Loma cluster and the involvement of parents there. Parent engagement is one of the key planks in the school district's community-based school reform model. Okay, I get that.

What I don't understand though, is why a system put in place to facilitate parent engagement, would then not be set up to optimize parental motivation to get involved?

For example, my children attend a 100 percent magnet school, The Language Academy. Although the school is located in the College Area, 100 percent of the student body comes from across the entire school district; we have no "neighborhood" component to the student body. After completing the K-8 curriculum in French or Spanish immersion, most students matriculate to the School of International Studies at San Diego High (SDHS-IS). Most of our families see SDHS-IS as our "community" high school, given that we have no geographically based "community" or neighborhood.

Yet, The Language Academy is assigned to the Crawford and Hoover cluster. Last year, out of 67 eighth-grade students, only one went to Crawford, and none went to Hoover. In contrast, 20 students went to SDHS-IS, the largest matriculation group out of that cohort...

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