For years, we’ve heard a lot about parent “engagement” — that our community apparently values it but notoriously underinvests in it and approaches it as one-way information sharing.
Concurrently, two-thirds of students in Minneapolis enroll in a district school outside of their neighborhood, a charter school or an independent school. At Pillsbury United Communities we work with thousands of families each year. Finding the right school option is something we frequently hear from families – parents are scouring Minneapolis looking for that best-fit school. Are they finding it?
For two years, Minnesota Comeback – which leads a coalition of schools, advocates and funders organizing around strategies and resources to transform K-12 – has convened parents and community organizations to understand, from all of us, the barriers to accessing great schools and how to co-design solutions for more great schools. There’s more work to be done, but this approach of co-designing, while messy, is also refreshing.
And families, especially those most in need, could not be clearer: They want comprehensive, well-rounded and reliable information on schools across Minneapolis. What’s more, they see the value, and the necessity of having a tool that simplifies the school search process. This is a starting point.
Minneapolis School Finder
If we begin to truly think of parents as advocates for their children and want them fully engaged in their education, it begins with empowering them with thorough and objective information. Minneapolis School Finder – a new resource guide for parents – can help parents make well-informed decisions when selecting a school for their children. The guide provides comprehensive and relevant information on 139 schools across our city so families can find the one that is the best fit.
With so many different choices to navigate, parents need the information to match. Whether it be information regarding the programs and academics, to hours and demographics, the MN Comeback coalition designed Minneapolis School Finder specifically for parents.
Families should be the co-designers of solutions and MN Comeback’s Community Engagement Team – composed of representatives from all types of schools and nonprofit organizations – has been hard at work identifying engagement strategies that actually empower parents and invest in their own agency. The age-old saying “knowledge is power” rings true – when parents have the knowledge and the resources, empowerment will follow.
Academic and cultural information
When it comes to K-12, parents shouldn’t rely just on their gut feeling or the rumor mill. Every family deserves to know what each school has to offer – academically and culturally. In addition to school profiles, Minneapolis School Finder includes: tips for choosing a school, questions to ask when touring schools, application and enrollment guidance, as well as a list of schools that continue to change the odds for students most in need. But let’s not just shine a light on what’s working, let’s work with parents to expand and grow proven and promising schools.
To raise a child takes a village. Collectively and collaboratively, Minneapolis communities have joined together to provide parents with the resources they need to make the best possible choices for their children. It’s evident that the journey toward equitable and quality education does not end here. This is just the beginning. MN Comeback welcomes any feedback and continued support to ensure that Minneapolis School Finder is an honest and true reflection of the communities it has been designed to serve.
WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at email@example.com.)