The Challenge:

The relationships between families and schools is an indicator of parental involvement and student success. Families who feel connected to their school are more likely to be involved whereas families who feel removed are less likely. This connection is especially important for immigrant and English Language Learner (ELL) families.

In Lawrence, MA:

Source: http://ruanolaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Lawrence_Riverfront-1.jpg

Lawrence, Massachusetts is rife with deep poverty and a poor education system. The former mill city is now home to a large immigrant population; 80 percent of the students in the district are English Language Learners (ELL) (Northern, 2017). The school was placed under receivership, a statute that gives outside authority (receiver) the power to manage and operate all aspects of a school or district, in 2011 after its classification as a “level 5” district- the lowest rating in the state accountability system. It was taken over by state-elected Receiver, Jeff Riley, in 2012. After six years of receivership, Lawrence Public Schools (LPS) is getting its district back. Currently the school board is on the hunt for the next superintendent. Community members, parents, and students are partaking in that decision. Their involvement in this decision and in the schools is critical to the future dynamic of the LPS district. Whereas beforehand Lawrence families and communities members were silenced, effectivley insignificant to the decisions made for them about their schools, the return of a regular superintendent denotes the shifting  power. Grassroots organizations, seeing this as an opportuntity to increase the voices of the community in school decisions are encouraging students and parents to speak up and speak out.

Cited Sources:

Northern, A.M. (May 31, 2017). The Effects of a District Receivership in Massachusetts. The Fordham Institute. Retreived from https://edexcellence.net/