Candidates, Bullying, And More! Join Us March 16.

You can join us March 16 at 6:15 for our annual parent friendly school board candidate forum. What makes our forum parent friendly?  You get to ask your own questions, actually talk to the candidates, and both food and childcare are available. Can’t stay for the entire forum or need to arrive late?  Not a problem!  With our format it is easy to come and go. We understand the difficulties you have juggling your family schedule and will welcome you for the time you have to share.  So please come!  Forum will last approximately an hour. As last year, the forum will be held at United Community Builders, 617 North Providence.  Our forum is co-sponsored with the CMSTA.

You can actually join us BEFORE the forum for  a workshop on the new bullying law and related district policy. That begins at 5:30 pm. As a parent you need to know how the changes could affect your child, and what to do if your child is bullied or accused of bullying. You can find many good resources related to bullying here.

If you are a parent or other community member concerned about maintaining and strengthening our public school system so that ALL kids have a fair opportunity to succeed we welcome you to come meet us, share your concerns, and join in our work!

5:30 pm Workshop – What Parents Need To Know About Bullying

6:15 pm School Board Candidate Forum

March 16, 2017,  617 N. Providence

 

Bullying and The Presidential Election

As you prepare your kids for school, be aware that what they may be watching on t.v. or on the internet about our national politics may not be teaching the lessons we would have them learn.  Review this report from the Southern Policy Law Center about the “Trump effect” and what it means for bullying.  Whatever your political leanings, talk to your kids about how to treat others and what to do when meeting a bully.

More Questions Than Answers

Two weeks ago CPPS facilitated the community dialogue at following the film “Once Upon A Time, When Childcare for All Wasn’t Just A Fairy Tale, sponsored by the Cradle to Career Alliance.  The film centered around President Nixon’s veto of the Comprehensive Child Development Act in 1971, and how the bipartisan support for childcare evaporated as partisanship over “family values” rose to the fore.  It also highlighted the high quality childcare programs we currently provide for military families and asked how other families might benefit by access to such programs.

Many in attendance we unaware of this  history, and were surprised by other facts shared, including that dog kennels are in some places more regulated than child care, and that day care workers can in other places earn less that parking lot attendants.  You can download a discussion guide and transcript of the film here.

As one politician stated in the film, “fear in politics often trumps hope”.  Audience members observed that when this occurs, we often lose touch with what the research says, fall into “us v. them” thinking, and fail to work together to find the solutions that could help us move forward together in ways that could benefit us all.

Audience members also discussed what quality child-centered care can look like, referring to our school district’s Title 1 preschool programs, and asked why we as the “richest country in the world” can invest in banks, the auto industry, and other commercial venues, but dismiss similar investments for families and kids as unaffordable, even as the research demonstrates that the returns on such investments are significant (one participants cited a statistic of 700% in returns for each dollar invested in early childcare) and sustainable. One participant wrote:

Our way of life is reliant on government, like it or not; some provision needs to be made.

Others observed that change never happens overnight, — that it is incremental change that drives larger change –, that even when change occurs little progress is often made in equity for minority communities, and that for the political system to work for good, that good needs to intersect with more opportunistic benefits for one or more interest groups. Participants also expressed hope that as more families are in need of quality care, and more of our children fall into poverty, the political will to invest in quality daycare, particularly for our kids in greatest need, may build.

One point noted in the film, which was echoed in the audience discussion, was that how we talk about an issue has a significant effect on the way we work together and what we as a community are willing to support. The Raising of America website contains tips and an excellent “action toolkit” that you can download.  These resources will help you think about what words to use if you want to encourage greater investment in our kids, and to address the arguments that have prevented that investment in the past.

 

Join Us For Dialogue Saturday September 26 at the ARC, 9 to 11 am

Coffee at, 8:45 am, dialogue at 9! Shop at the Farmers Market before or after! Please join us this next Saturday, September 26 at the ARC, 1701 W. Ash St. for our second dialogue using the Ensuring Our Future: What Communities Can Do To Help All Kids Succeed. You can read about our last dialogue here.  Our children and our schools need your voice!  Hope to see you there.

Report On Annual Meeting and Dialogue: Ensuring Our Future

We had approximately 20 engaged community members attend the dialogue co-hosted by Columbia Parents for Public Schools and the Cradle to Career Alliance on June 20, 2015.  The focus of the dialogue was “Ensuring the Future: What Should Communities Do To Help Children Succeed?”, and we used the community dialogue guide of that same name developed by PPS in conjunction with the Kettering Foundation to help structure the discussions.  Pam Conway, Executive Director of the Cradle to Career Alliance led off with a summary of what has been done in the last year, particularly with regard to early childhood education, and she and Sarah Read, President of CPPS, also discussed early adolescence as a critical time for intervention and shared some statistics on challenges in Boone County.  Did you know that the refugee population in Columbia alone has doubled from 600 to 1200 in the last year? Or that children in Boone County currently have a lower chance of upward social mobility than children living anywhere else in Missouri?  Neither did many of those present.
The small group discussions were energized and productive – you can download and read a full set of moderator notes here.  Some of the key themes that emerged were:
  • Community – the schools aren’t responsible for raising our youth, although they play an important role.  Families and community are.  Yet as many participants noted, there is no clear, consistent, and coherent “community voice” in Columbia or the county indicating what we expect of our families or youth.
  • Collaboration – many organizations address educational and youth issues, and these often compete for scarce funds and operate in silos.  The Cradle to Career Alliance exists in part to help improve collaboration among identified organizations.  A key question to ask though is, how do we more consistently collaborate as citizens in our community to develop the structures, messages, and other guidance our youth need?
  • Confronting Reality – if we are going to move forward we need to acknowledge and frankly talk about systemic issues like bias and poverty, as well as facts like dysfunction in families, inappropriate conduct in youth, apathy in significant segments of the community, and a focus on politically acceptable “band-aid” solutions that displace other approaches that could result in more appreciable change.  There need to be safe places for this type of dialogue, meaning places where we can learn from each other without harsh judgment and finger-pointing.
  • Accountability –  Families, students, schools, and community members need to be accountable for their role in helping our children grow up to be responsible, productive, citizens.  But what are we accountable for?  A key gap identified in the dialogue was a common understanding of what “success”, or “high expectations” should be.  Despite this gap, some common responsibilities were identified: being aware of the needs, and being involved in finding ways to do things better.  We will be having more dialogue about expectations, raising awareness, and increasing involvement. We hope you will join us, either by adding comments below or by sending an e-mail to columbiaparents4publicschools@gmail.com and being added to our list-serv for future events.

Our discussion also generated a number of good ideas that we will be continuing to discuss, such as becoming “an early child-hood informed community”; extending the “buddy pack” program to pre-schoolers; providing mandatory mental health education in middle school, and increasing the awareness of drug and alcohol abuse and its effects for those in high school.  Many participants focused on the need for mentoring and internships that teach soft skills and build social capital.  There have been and are mentoring programs in Columbia, but again they are not community wide and often operate in silos. Resources and efforts we could evaluate include the Minnesota Mentoring Partnership, the Washington DC Tutoring and Mentoring Initiative, or the new American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeship.  Again, if you are interested in joining future dialogues, contact us columbiaparents4publicschools@gmail.com.

At the end of the dialogues, CPPS members confirmed the board for this year:  Sarah Read, President; Elizabeth Peterson, Vice President; Angie Cunningham, Secretary and Treasurer; Steve Calloway, Joe Toepke, Terra Schultz, and Tyree Byndom.  Feel free to contact any member of the board with your ideas and suggestions.

Join Us This Saturday March 14!

We will co-host our annual candidate forum with the CMSTA and CCPTA this Saturday, March 14, at 8:30 AM at the ARC!  This will be our usual family friendly format and we are trying to make it even more family-friendly by scheduling on a Saturday morning.  We hope to see you there!  In addition to showcasing the candidates we will have message boards and opportunities for parent to parent conversation.  Come and ask your questions!  Not sure what to look for in a candidate?  Here are characteristics that we look for:

1. Ability to work effectively with others. Ask – does this candidate have effective listening and speaking skills? Has this candidate demonstrated an ability to build consensus and achieve collaborative outcomes?  Will this candidate listen to the concerns and thoughts of parents, students, and faculty with an open-mind?

2. Values diversity. Ask -does this candidate engage and show rapport with different segments of the public?  Have they demonstrated an understanding of the need to involve the entire community in the decisions of how we educate our children?

3. Organization, Fiscal and Leadership Skills.  Ask – what experience does this candidate bring to the table?  Do they understand and respect the differences between policy- making and administration?  Can they work with a budget?

4. Seeks Excellence in Education. Ask – is this candidate open to new ideas? Is the candidate committed to quality through innovation and professional development? Do they have high expectations for achievement for all students?

5. Community Builder and Leader.  Ask – what other organizations, boards, or activities has this candidate been involved in?  Will they be a positive role model for our youth?

6. Strong Advocate for Public Education!

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