When Parents, Not Bureaucrats, Change A School

This Boston Globe story about a formerly unwanted school being transformed into a much more successful, popular, and white school by an influx of new parents reminds me that, even outside of the Renaissance 2010 or NCLB process, school change is hard.

"Two years ago, the Joseph J. Hurley Elementary School in Bostons South
End had no gym and no library. For years,
the school had been shunned by parents during the annual school
selection lottery. Today, the school is a dramatically different place,
thanks to dozens of South End parents who banded together to adopt
and improve the small school. Similar
transformations are occurring in about a dozen other of the citys 78
elementary schools. But even
as the city heralds the new engagement, it has set off debate about
diversity and empowerment."

We all tend to think that school change is hard mostly because of bumbling bureaucrats, be they local of federal, but this story highlights the fact that that's not always the case.  And there are similar examples in Chicago.  Whether it's Pulaski, or Pritzker, or Drummond, South Loop, or other situations I don't know about, neighborhood changes sometimes lead to changes in student diversity, parent expectations, and all the rest. And not everyone likes what happens.

Are there other places where the school has "turned around" without CPS or other outside involvement, just because of neighborhood or parent changes?  Does everyone win, or are the old parents inevitably pushed out?  What should the middle-class/white parents do instead -- move back to the suburbs?

Filed under: Communities & CBOs

Leave a comment