[Data from 2007]
Last week, the parents (about 25) in the Parent Café that my organization facilitates at one of the West Oakland (low income, predominantly black) elementary schools initiated a campaign for parents to be hired in the school as teaching assistants. There are several reasons why this is a powerful proposal:
- By providing employment, this program addresses the primary cause of lower student performance: poverty. The more money your family has the better you will do in school.
- It will cut child-adult ratio in half, doubling the amount of personal attention the students receive. Children can get the help they need.
- Such a program will transform school climate and discipline with the preponderance of parental love.
- By training parents, it will increase the level of family literacy in the school community.
- The program will address language issues, providing a bilingual parent for each language group in the school community.
- It will help teachers to increase their cultural competence and provide a basis for them to form an alliance with parents.
- The program would include a robust training program for both parents and teachers and a rigorous evaluation process.
This is not a new idea. There is precedent. In the late sixties and early seventies, Title I (Federal funds) were used in many schools precisely for this purpose to positive effect.
We are thinking in terms of an elegant campaign, led by the parents, that stresses the logic of our proposal to the district, the school board, the city council, the other nonprofits and all the philanthropic organizations in the neighborhood, banks, and corporations. We will build a movement. It should be fun!