Last Wednesday, more than 700 parents, educators, students and administrators from across the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) gathered at NC State to discuss the five-year strategic plan that will guide the school system moving forward. It was an impressive evening, and it was great to be at a table with a couple of principals, a second-grade teacher and a member of the WCPSS Testing Office. You can find more information on the initiative via this link.
I am sure it will come as no surprise that the result at the end of the evening was that 82% of those present identified the top priority as recruiting, developing and retaining high-quality employees. We all agreed that if we can do this, everything else is possible. The point was rightly made that we have great employees and that retention is a serious concern. Of course, NC's reputation as 46th in the nation for educator pay does not help, but we also discussed the fact that pay alone is not going to solve everything. Hopefully the new budget will go some way toward bringing our rates of pay up to a more competitive level.
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I believe that as parents we can play a role in helping to make sure that the support received from parent volunteers could be more equitable across schools. Most importantly, I think that parents can also play a role in helping to turn the course on our shocking school-to-jail pipeline statistics. In order to do so, we need to work together as a wider community instead of focusing only on our school, in our neighborhood.
The schools my children attend have a lot of parental involvement; the school my sister teaches at across town, not as much. Why are we treating each school in our district like its own organization? Why don't we have a centralized database of parents who are happy to help outside of their neighborhood school and go a bit further afield to help where it is really needed? We already have the background check database in place perhaps we can add a "happy to help at any school" option.
I was extremely impressed with everyone I met during the WCPSS Town Hall Forum. They are true professionals with impressive backgrounds and a commitment to serving our students. I want to spread the wealth and help out so that all schools and all students benefit.
As school starts, I am going to be reaching out to some of the people that I met to see where we can go with this idea for this school year. I am happy to photocopy or do whatever else might help if it saves a teacher spending precious hours doing it. I am happy to give a talk at a school in our district that my kids don't go to. I am happy to read with any students, the list goes on and on. I just need to reach out and ask the question: "how and where can I help."
I will keep you posted, I know I am not alone in wanting to support our school district this school year and beyond.