Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Feisty moms also help 

Following on yesterday's post about the alliance of private school parents and a public school in the Bronx, the Christian Science Monitor reports "that positive change in public schools can be achieved only by working from inside." Not a novel thought, but the means by which they did this are:
MOM ("Mothers on the Move") sprang to being in a classroom - but not the kind of public school classroom the group now works to transform.

It was instead an adult literacy class, where in 1991 a group of Bronx residents were struggling to learn to read forms printed in English. As an exercise, the teacher, Barbara Gross, suggested that her students - many of whom had children in the neighborhood schools - look those schools up in a citywide ranking.

Ms. Gross's students were stunned to discover that the schools their children attended were among the worst in the city. And Gross herself was taken aback to realize how little these parents knew about the public school system.

Thus was born the idea that together, neighborhood mothers could educate themselves about the city's school system, and collectively - with knowledge as their tool - work to improve their local schools.
There's much talk of "working within the system" and I suspect Ms. Gross was in no small part motivated to get parents to help get more money into public schools. Still, an attempt to educate parents on what's wrong with their schools has to be rooted in getting parents to care more about their own education in many parts of the country.