A+ Schools, the local educational advocacy group, is looking for 12 dozen volunteers to interview principals and other school officials to find out how well they understand and are helping with issues central to their students' own concerns.
The interviewing project, called School Works, began in 2009 “to understand the opportunities and resources that exist for kids in schools," says Amy Scott, A+'s Research and Data Analysis, "so we can understand better whether there are opportunities and resources that might be contributing to the achievement gap …” by their absence. In previous years project volunteers have interviewed middle-school and high-school principals, counselors and teachers. For this school year, they will target high-school principals, counselors and learning environment specialists – teachers who focus on student behavior in schools and the teachers’ working conditions.
“We're striving to better understand the level of exposure, access and experiences with the issues identified by Teen Bloc,” a student leadership program, which this fall developed a Student Bill of Rights
. The Bill of Rights asks for everything from the right to free expression and to participate in educational decisions to "equitable academic resources … a socially, emotionally, and physically safe and positive school climate … effective teachers," as well as "positive school disciplinary policies and practices." The student group hopes next that the school board will adopt the bill. They have met with individual members of the board, “and there are school board members who are supportive,” says Scott.
Anybody can be an effective volunteer to conduct the interviews, she adds. "In the past we’ve had concerned citizens, parents, folks who work in education and folks who work in business. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to visit a school and get firsthand knowledge of how schools are working and being run.”
Sign up now for the training
that runs Jan. 23-31. Interviews will be done Feb. 10-21.
For more information on volunteering for School Works, contact Volunteer Coordinator Mollie Pollack
at (412) 697-1298, ext. 101.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Amy Scott, A+ Schools