Totino-Grace High School is an excelling school located in the city of Fridley. Its success in meeting and fulfilling the set goals including offering relevant, competitive programs have been totally attributed to the well established management. The management includes the principal, teachers, parents and community-based organizations. Cooperation of these stakeholders has seen the school to achieving all the stipulated strategies in time. Educational Management Research have found a lot of interests on how community together with schools can enter into an agreement to motivate, manage, and take part in improving schools’ performances. Among already mentioned stakeholders, Community-School Partnership is the most vibrant player in the excellence of Totino-Grace.
Community-School Partnership is an operational and functional arrangement made between the school and the families in the community. The partnership approach provides the community with an opportunity to determine options for school involvement in a wide range of activities, and it assumes important roles and responsibilities in school improvement efforts by participating in the decision-making process of the school. In this partnership, both the school and the community come together under agreement of mutual benefits from this partnership. Each party stipulates its goals and objectives together with the intended methods of achieving them. Alongside these, both the school and the community lay down their challenges which may range from financial, political, literacy, and disciplinary among others and then follows the sharing of responsibilities in solving these through a relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation by acknowledgment of the assets and expertise of each party. A common example of the partners in the United States of America’s school systems is the Parent-Teacher Organization or Parent-Teacher Association.
Totino-Grace school has for the last period of time collaborated with the PTO/PTA to achieve its set goals and timely strategic plan. In this context Parent-Teacher Association and Parent-Teacher Organization will be used interchangeably to mean the same thing. PTO in U.S is a formal organization which comprises of teachers, parents and school staff. The organization is intended to facilitate parental as community participation in both public and private schools.
The establishment of PTA involves mutual agreement between the parents and the school administration whereby their success greatly depends on the mutual participation, respect, competence, and recognition of members’ efforts. The common agreements are collaboration by working with different people toward attaining set goals, acknowledging every one’s efforts.
The agreement aims to share the responsibilities of students’ learning among the school, home, and the community as whole. Perhaps the most important part of agreement is to provide the students with the opportunities for very meaningful and engaged learning. The association provides a forum for joint efforts from the parents, students and teachers towards provision and excelling quality teacher education by monitoring the relationship of the three being the building blocks towards community and school prosperity. It also draws its agreement by establishing a criterion to identify the strengths and limitations of the existing training programs after which the assessment suggests and recommends the steps taken to make the field relevant to ever-changing market demands on competence and skill acquired in schools. Parents are also invited to suggest and forward their views together with recommendations on the quality of the existing teacher training programs including the curriculum offered.
The following conversation clarifies on the facts about these agreements:
This is how conversation took place. (Mr. Kish is the principal, Totino School; Mr. Hec is a parent and also PTO member)
(Student knocks on the door)
Mr. Kish: yes come in
student: hello, I am a student pursuing statistics at Florida University
Mr.Kish: thank you, how can I assist you, sorry this is
one of the parent in this school
Student: oh what an opportunity for me
Student: thank you: I am due behind schedule and I would like to request some facts from you
Mr.: Kish: Yes….. (He shakes the hand)
Mr. Kish: you are free
Student: OK. I want you to tell me in turns what were the motivating factor of establishing PTO, what are the benefits, and the challenge? OK it is your turn
Mr. Kish: (he begins as the student take notes)first of all I would like to clarify to you that such partnerships are not optional but that is what the law sates. However how you make it effective is your choice. TO helps us a lot as school administrators to manage and monitor student’s performance. PTO as a link between the student and other legal organization like School Advisory Committee participates in communicating students', parents', and teacher’s suggestions. It also spearheads major events in this school, for example, this year only we have managed to raise funds for over 50 needy students all attributed to this body. In summary i would like to note and appreciate PTO for the following; it acts as a communicator, spearheads major and crucial events, student motivations and guidance, checks on curriculum we offer and makes suggestions. The only challenge it faces is lack of funding from the state. Thank you. (Principal ends his explanation)
Student: that is quite noted statement, Mr. Hec, it is your turn.
Mr. Hec: (begins to explain) Thank you. I hope The Principal has made the summary, but to clarify, we as community have been able to be recognized and participate on issues relating to school decision-making. We have been able to forward our views to other advanced committees like School Advisory Committees. This is good thing as parents as a community is being regarded as a vibrant party towards taking education to higher levels. Thank you.
Student: welcome. It has been a great pleasure meeting you people and I hope I did not intervene you schedules:
(both Kish and Hec): Welcome. Not at all
Student: great. Have to excuse myself.
Mr. Kish: Welcome next time
Student: Thank you and bye. See you.
(Conversation ends and she leaves the office)
PTA roles include fund-raising whereby during its meetings, members and invited personalities brings money and other requirements necessary for the running of the school. It does the same also by indirectly raising money through establishment of money-fetching investments through school farms and businesses. This helps the school meet and overcome its financial constrains by conducting book fairs where the PTA helps to facilitate and promote students to offer books at reasonable prices and classroom library stocking. The raised money is then used to develop the school through their supervision.
It also undertakes teacher appreciation to show that teachers are the most valued through end-of school luncheons hence providing a great motivation to teachers towards their efforts and helps to challenge the underperforming teachers to follow suit of the excelling colleagues. This has been found out through research by psychologists where they argue about the excellence of an action depending whether it reward or punishes, but PTA here aims at the positive reward of their efforts.
The organization also provides scholarship to the members’ children. This has been witnessed where the financially weak parents have been able to take children through primary education to the advanced levels including Universities. The board is established by the organization to study the financial status of its members where thereafter recommends the vulnerable students deserving assistance.
One of the features of an excellent school to provide better education depends on its efforts to provide a good serene environment for learning. This is through beautification and clearance of any distractive environmental components and establishing physical feature which will help to establish and enhance good learning environment, all these being spearheaded by these community-based organizations. Examples in this perspective are planting of trees within the school compound and relocation of feature like roads away from the learning environment as they affect the learning by students.
Parents are also able to know what is in the store for their children through forums held by PTO commonly referred to as “get-to-your teachers”. During such events parents are able to note some loopholes in the mode of teaching and the curriculum offered to their children. They will then forward their proposals to be discussed jointly on their implementation. Seminars and workshops can be incorporated in such event by inviting experts who will then offer training, motivation and guidance on the practical subjects especially the science ones.
PTO has the responsibility to comply with the School Advisory Committee established under law regarding structures of the schools in most school of USA. School advisory committee comprises of parents, teachers, staff and the principal. The body writes and implements School Improvement Plan based on available statistical findings sampled surveys, and teacher efforts. Schools progress is evaluated at all times of the academic year. S.A.C meets on monthly basis and is responsible in advising the Principal on school policy and operations. PTA undertakes its mandate based on the stipulations stated by SAC.
Like any other school partner, PTO works hand in hand with SAC to see the school progress from one level to another. It has to address the issues of attendance policy where teachers as members of PTO are required to submit class attendance of each class through out the day. SAC also requires that the student’s progress be submitted at the end of every quarter to be analyzed so that all regression is dealt with in time. It is also required to formulate communication policy so that the established communication program acts as a link between the school and the remote community for passing the relevant school related information. The role of PTO here acts as a communicator by receiving and disseminating the message to the community.
In conclusion through PTO, student’s emerging requirements and services are forwarded to SAC for consideration and implementations therefore the body is required to carry out reasonable analysis of the grievances before forwarding them to the committee to be discussed during its monthly meetings. No mandate is given to PTO to implement any proposal without any properly communicated permission from the committee and if the implementation does not require intervention by the committee, where necessary the organization has to provide a clear written clarification to the committee.