To start off, I'd highly recommend everyone read a report called "Beyond Islands of Excellence: What Districts Can Do To Improve Instruction and Achievement in All Schools." It is a report by the Learning First Alliance, which is a "a permanent partnership of 17 leading education associations with more than 10 million members dedicated to improving student learning in America's public schools." You can download this and other publications of the Learning First Alliance after completing a free registration process online.
The whole report is quite informative, but if you are short on time, skip to page 49 to read the Ten Lessons Learned, and then to page 51 to read the Recommendations, both overall and then broken out for individual stakeholders. For Parent Leaders, the report's recommendations for action are:
1. Demand data regarding student performance, curriculum quality, teacher qualifications, the quality of instruction, fund allocation, and strategies to improve achievement.
2. Build parent and community support for instructional reform. Help parents understand reform in the district, the importance of instruction, and the relationship between instructional improvement and student achievement.
3. Learn about why teachers need ongoing on-the-job professional development to improve student achievement, and work with parents to support it. Support policies such as early-release time or additional funds to build the instructional skills of teachers and leaders.
4. Actively support school board candidates who will sustain the district focus on improving achievement and instruction.
These recommendations seem concrete and actionable. They could form the core of an agenda for CPPS (Communities & Parents for Public Schools), the Alliance for Education, the PTSA or other city-wide groups, and #1 and #4 are also recommendations individual parents could put time into. I believe Brita is committed to more open exchange of information and could perhaps assist us gathering some of the information listed in recommendation #1 which we could publicize on this blog, at our schools, and elsewhere.
Your thoughts, reactions or ideas about how to follow the Learning First Alliance recommendations?