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Cincinnati Schools Establishes Programs That Unite Educators And The Community
This summer saw the creation of the Cincinnati Schools � Parent Leadership Institute. The program reflects the changing role that parents play in public education. As Vanessa White, the Board President of the Parents for Public Schools (PPS) stated: �The days of bake sales are long gone. Today, parents need a new set of skills and knowledge if they are to realize their full potential to impact student achievement and drive school improvement.� Organizations such as PPS work to align the needs of Cincinnati schools with the resources of parents in order for both sides to work together for the benefit of children attending Cincinnati schools.
One of the models that the Cincinnati schools have been looking at is the Pritchard Committee of Lexington, Kentucky. The Pritchard Committee established the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership and trained over 1300 parents from a variety of backgrounds in the ways that they could be productive in assisting the public school system. Cincinnati schools have seen the success of the Lexington program and have worked diligently to see if such a program could have a similar positive effect on parental involvement in Cincinnati schools. Ms. White is eager to see how Cincinnati schools will benefit and expresses high hopes for the program: �Expectations have been raised for students and teachers, and it�s time for parents to step up to the plate as well. This program will greatly enhance our ability to identify and develop parent leaders who can then engage other parents to ensure that our schools provide a quality public education for all children.�
Other educational professionals in the Cincinnati schools have also welcomes the process and look to the success of the Lexington program to justify their enthusiasm. Superintendent Rosa Blackwell argues that �decades of research confirm that when parents are more involved, student achievement increases.� Cincinnati schools stand to benefit from those decades of research in creating a program that clearly aligns the activities of parents and teachers in order to make a Cincinnati public school environment that provides the most comprehensive program for students.
Cincinnati schools are relying on a number of local and national partners to implement the program. In addition to the Pritchard Committee, Cincinnati schools will be working with the United Way and Xavier University. These groups hope to create Community Learning Centers where parents can come for training. Cincinnati schools are grateful for the support from business and other community partners in order to fund these Community Learning Centers. Among the grant supporters are the KnowledegeWorks Foundation, the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Kroger Foundation. All of these groups will work in conjunction to make the program as effective as possible for Cincinnati school parents.
To start the program off, a pilot group will begin working under the direction of Zakia McKinney. Ms. McKinney has worked as an Education Director at the Urban League as well as an Executive Director of the Walnut Hills Churches. She has been active in community organizations for many years and looks forward to sharing her experience with Cincinnati schools. She is optimistic of the program�s potential for Cincinnati schools, stating that �The Parent Leadership Institute will play an important part by training parents as informed advocates and willing change agents equipped to engage other parents to work with the schools on solutions for change�
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