Meeting District Needs

Parent Founders of N.Y.C. Public School Struggle to Define Their Roles

By Karla Scoon Reid — March 21, 2014 1 min read

After nearly a decade of lobbying New York City public school officials to build a middle school in their Bronx neighborhood, the United Parents of Highbridge, were active in the planning, construction, and vision for their community’s new school.

An article in Chalkbeat New York, examines the challenges involved in redefining those active parents’ roles once classes started at the Highbridge Green School in September. There hasn’t been a middle school in this largely immigrant and poor neighborhood since the 1960s.

Although, the school’s PTA president, Jose Gonzales, told Chalkbeat that the school staff listen to parents, he believes the school should take “advantage of parents’ unique knowledge,” and apply it when making decisions about the budget, curriculum, and after-school offerings as well.

The school, according to the story, has moved forward successfully with some parent-teacher collaborations, which included a project where students interviewed their parents about their perspectives regarding immigration to compliment an English lesson.

But defining the boundaries of parent involvement at Highbridge has also created some tension. In the story, Principal Kyle Brillante said he hopes to receive more support from the city’s education department and ideas from veteran principals to “incorporate parents more and make their voices heard.” New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña pledged to strengthen parent-engagement efforts throughout the district when she was appointed to lead the city schools in December.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.