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                                                 In Brief: Findings, Vision | At a Glance | Executive Summary
                                        Stakeholders:
StudentsEducators | Parents and Community 
                           Other Considerations: Infrastructure | Accountability


Next Steps
This document is meant to articulate a vision for the future of the Knox County Schools, and several important areas of focus that will be critical to achieving this vision.  It is deliberately high-level and expansive in nature.  As we move forward, the next step in our planning process will be to begin to develop a more detailed and precise strategic plan which will include specific objectives, strategies, timelines and metrics that reflect and support this vision.


GOAL 3:
ENGAGED PARENTS AND COMMUNITY
The Knox County Schools, parents and extended families must partner in the education of our children.  Schools and educators cannot go it alone.  It is the obligation of the Knox County Schools to provide parents with the opportunities and the tools to be meaningfully engaged in the education of their children.  Just as parents are critical collaborators in our educational efforts, community partners, businesses, higher education, citizens, and taxpayers are important players in supporting our instructional efforts.
 
OBJECTIVE I:
Engage Parents and Our Community in Education
o    Build Family Educational Efficacy
o    Fully Implement Family Friendly Schools District-wide
o    Communicate More Effectively with Parents and the  Community
o    Develop a System to Broadly Identify and Coordinate Volunteer Opportunities


OBJECTIVE II:
Create and Embrace Meaningful Partnership
o    Restructure the Great Schools Partnership as a Local Education Fund
o    Build Family Capacity Using Social Service Partnerships
o    Coordinate Focused District Partnerships

Parent and Community Engagement

Parent Engagement

Parents and extended families must be our partners and allies in education.  We cannot do it alone, and it is our obligation to provide parents with the opportunities and the tools to be meaningfully engaged in the education of their children.  Meaningful engagement is built upon open and continuous communication at all levels, from the classroom to the superintendent’s office.  

For our parents and families to be engaged, they must have the information, tools, and access to essentially extend the classroom to the kitchen table.  We have to make effective use of all of our communication resources (websites, newsletters, ParentLink, etc.) to keep parents informed about what is happening in the classroom and why.  We must create opportunities for parents to learn about our curriculum, expectations, and standards.  We would be wise to work closely with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and other parent organizations active in our school district.  We also know that we must open our schools, our classrooms and our resources to parent interaction.  I believe that all of these measures will help parents support and reinforce the lessons and learning from school.  It will also make it possible for parents to provide teachers meaningful feedback about their children’s progress and interests.

We must expand our efforts to create family friendly schools, where teachers, parents, administrators and students are all partners in the education experience.  Parents should feel that they are a vital component of the school community, and an important part of the educational team working to develop and teach their child.  The work of Steve Constantino6 and Joyce Epstein7  will continue to be instructive as the Knox County Schools seeks to make our aspirations of true parental partnership a reality.

Community Involvement

Just as parents are critical collaborators in our educational efforts, community partners, businesses, higher education, citizens and taxpayers are important players in supporting our instructional efforts.  The Annenberg Institute’s Central Office Review for Results and Equity (CORRE) report identified better leveraging community resources and partnerships as one of five key recommendations for the future success of the Knox County Schools.  I agree with and support this recommendation.   
 
We must create both structured and informal opportunities for interested community stakeholders to engage in the educational life of our schools and school system.  Reinstating the Principal for a Day program in the 2009-10 school year would be a positive beginning.   A non-profit clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities in high-needs schools is also clearly needed and would be favorably received.  Efforts to get community stakeholders involved in enriching the educational experience for students, such as the nascent Volunteers for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Vols4STEM) initiative, should be supported.  Enhanced communication and clear branding will help inform and excite our community about the successes and challenges in the Knox County Schools.  

The Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership has expressed its interest in facilitating a greater role for the business community in education reform efforts.  The Chamber and its members will be welcomed as valued and integral partners in our educational improvement efforts.

Great Schools Partnership

Over the past several years, the Great Schools Partnership (GSP) has had a unique and important collaborative relationship with the Knox County Schools.  Founded as a follow-up to the “Every School A Great School” campaign, the GSP has been an incubator for innovation and experimentation in our school system.  Our early childhood education strategies, the Teacher Advancement Program, and teacher induction protocol are all successful initiatives that have begun in the Knox County Schools through the GSP.  The challenge with the Partnership is that it funded exclusively through public funds, creating opportunity costs for those funds and diminishing the fiscal stability of the organization.

The Great Schools Partnership has been a useful and productive structure for school improvement in Knoxville.  The partnership should be continued and strengthened, and as the Annenberg Institute’s CORRE report also suggested, transitioned to more of a Local Education Fund (LEF).  An LEF would have more independence than the current GSP structure, and allow for aggressive private-sector fundraising, while its central mission will unequivocally continue to be to support educational improvement in the Knox County Schools.  Identifying a knowledgeable and dynamic leader for the GSP will be a priority for the next several months.
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