We have been working over the past 8 years to transform the lives and learning of minority children by celebrating and inspiring academic ambition. From the beginning we’ve demonstrated that celebration and motivation are the keys to improving students’ academic outcomes. We’re proud of the many students that we’ve challenged thus far, and grateful to their parents and collective communities for stepping up to change the path of their lives.
We remain a long way from causing the change we’re after, but we have learned a great deal about the complexities of the public education system and the challenges to financing this work. We’ve audited our processes, reviewed the landscape of education in this country and determined that the current conversation about education reform overlooks one important focus.
We’re convinced that learning is enhanced and transformed when the culture or conditions for learning in schools, homes and in our communities are aligned to foster learning. Beginning with the 2013 school year, we will place an acute focus on school culture, and the dynamic educational and motivational shift that occurs when all connected to a school are aligned to focus on learning. What do we mean by “school culture”?
A collaborative educational system that celebrates the accomplishments of students and teachers, allocates the necessary time for teachers to collaborate and improve; invites parents to contribute their ideas and opinions, in addition to their resources; and coalesces necessary partners to support the myriad needs of poor students.
Why school culture?
Few are talking about it. Research shows that schools with a positive culture foster academic improvement, cohesion, collaborative decision-making, professional development and staff and student learning. Even as we tend to overlook it because we can’t adequately measure it, school culture influences what the school cares about, the way people behave, what the people in the school spend time doing, and what they celebrate. The school whose leadership does the best job of deliberately influencing culture does a better job at producing student and teacher learning.
As we focus on the link between school culture and performance we need your help. We want to know:
- What does culture look like in your child’s school or a family member’s school?
- How does the school nurture and celebrate learning?
- In what ways do the people in your child’s school work cohesively to foster learning for all children?
- Are the teachers engaged and active in problem solving challenges or have they checked out?
- What could the school do better?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share what’s going on in your schools. Your stories and testimonials add value to the discussion, and are a critical factor in the success of our outreach. Together, we can begin to disrupt the education reform debate to get this country focused on change that will make a difference in our children’s learning.
With investment, engagement, and support, we can make a difference.
Etienne R. LeGrand
The W.E.B. Du Bois Society