Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How Important is Community Engagement? (Part one of a series)

Education of our students isn't solely the responsibility of the schools. Successful schools and districts benefit from support and engagement from a multitude of sources, including parents, local businesses and other community members. It is only through support from a cross-section of these stakeholder groups that students will be given access to the quality public education to which they are entitled, and for which the State of Texas is bound by its constitution.

Make Education a Priority (MEaP), an organization founded in 2010 by an Aledo ISD school board trustee, has defined “Foster Public Engagement with Public Schools” as one of its three core objectives as advocates for public education.  Specifically, the goals relating to this objective are:
  • Strengthen interactions between communities, students, and schools to bring about true engagement;
  • Encourage business and industry partnerships with public schools; and
  • Advocate public education awareness through social media and events.

This effort is more than simply putting words on paper.  Over the past nearly six years, MEaP has consistently focused on engaging local school board trustees in an effort to promote engagement at the local level.  Of note, a resolution supporting MEaP has been adopted by more than 600 districts across the State of Texas, precedent setting in bringing about a unity of purpose in support of the more than 5 million public education students in Texas.

Beginning with a formal announcement of these initiatives in early February, MEaP will work closely with districts in promoting community engagement programs.  In addition, MEaP will provide a framework for building partnerships between local businesses and the districts in their area.  This latter effort builds nicely on the foundation created by passage of House Bill 5 in the 83rd Legislative Session.

In future blogs, I'll offer my thoughts on two other critical aspects contributing to a quality educational opportunity for the 5.2 million Texas public education students.  Efforts to promote community engagement, combined with these additional objectives, will be critical to building an advocacy platform that looks toward the 85th Legislative Session that convenes in January, 2017.  We’re proud to focus our advocacy efforts to Make Education a Priority.

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