Challenges #2

I was assigned three projects throughout my summer. The biggest project (and the one I put the most work in) was to plan and host a policy briefing on a new discipline law that was recently passed by the State of Michigan. The purpose of this event was to invite Charter School Board Members throughout the city of Detroit in order to build a relationship between 482 and Charter Schools, as well as discuss implementation of the new ReThink Discipline Law (http://www.studentadvocacycenter.org/policy/rethink/). Most of my time with 482Forward was spent planning this event, from forming a committee to create an agenda, to the logistics of the invitations, food, location, resources, and much more. This project came with challenges though. Being the first time I was in charge of hosting an event, I found the the most difficult aspect of planning it to be turnout. This proved especially difficult because of who I was trying to invite–charter school board members. At first, I assumed that sending out invitations to them would be quite easy–by simply finding their contact information on their school’s website. That was not the case. For whatever reason, board member information was not available on each charter school’s website. This seemed strange to me, as I suspected that this type of information should be readily available to Detroit parents, as board members are tasked with making final decisions for their school. I began to make calls to these charter schools. The school offices would tell me that they do not have board member information and that I should call the authorizers. [For those who don’t know much about the structure of Charter Schools, each Michigan Charter School has an authorizer, usually a university that authorizes or allows a management company to open a charter school. The overall management of the school is run by a for-profit or nonprofit Management Company]. When I would call the authorizers, they would instruct me to call the schools, telling me that they do not have this information because they authorize so many schools throughout the state. I would then call the school again, this time asking directly for the principal. Some principals would tell me that they do not even know who their school board members are(!!!), and all would refer me to their management company. Calling the management companies would result in them telling me that they cannot give me the board member contact information, even though charter schools are public entities and therefore should be public information. While I was eventually able to find contact information and send out invitations to the policy briefing after much digging, it was extremely frustrating that finding such basic contact information was so difficult to find. From that though, this was learning experience for me as I could tell that the transparency of charter schools is problematic. I spent a majority of my summer intensely looking for board member contact information and had a hard time finding it. I cannot imagine the burden this puts on parents who want to hold their school leaders accountable and yet have much less time than I did to find this type of information. To me, it seems that if charter schools are to exist, we should push for grassroots charter schools that are heavily involved in their neighborhood/community and stem away from corporate charter schools that exist throughout the city of Detroit with little transparency and accountability. Side note: the policy briefing that I planned turned out great!                     

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Challenges #2

  • August 18, 2017 at 4:14 pm
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    So glad the policy briefing you planned turned out well!

    Reply

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