Start talking with middle school parents about shaping high school goals, so everybody has time to think through and become comfortable with Essential School ideas. The class entering 6th grade in 1993-94 will graduate from high school in 2000 — a realistic target year. Use plain language, not fuzzy or misleading slogans, to describe the changes you have in mind.
Focus groups of citizens in the Croton-Harmon, New York School District met with trained market-research professionals to answer these questions, each of which was explored further using the prompts that follow: What would you expect a graduate of our public schools to know and be able to do? What evidence would you accept that he or she has achieved those
You can’t start too early involving the community in Essential School change, experience shows. Only by joining the dialogue about tough problems will all parites begin to take part in their solution. The Conyers, Georgia Board of education was in a state of siege. The district’s new Salem High School had opened in a cloud of glory, its commitment to
Apprenticeships, internships, and “service learning” programs involve community members by their very nature. Get key people together and brainstorm for ideas and opportunities. Use your city as a classroom. Build academic partnerships or sponsor student projects along with universities, agencies, and nonprofit groups. Sponsor open community forums where prominent educators, business leaders, and management experts talk about what they need
Sponsor evening study groups where parents can explore the same educational issues teachers and administrators are learning about — integrated curriculum, advisories, heterogeneous grouping, exhibitions. Have public exhibitions of student work, formally presenting the best projects before the community. Make sure student work actually addresses important questions in rigorous ways; weak presentations trivialize Essential School ideas. Invite community members to