Many participants expressed displeasure with the amount and the quality of the communication they receive from their school and/or the district. They talked about how infrequently communication is received, and how it often comes too late to act upon. For instance, many parents talked about how they were not made aware of their child’s issues at school in a timely manner (sometimes only after report cards had been sent home) and requested more frequent contact. We also heard this from community organizations, as they want to be informed regarding school successes and needs so that they can be involved and provide assistance. In general, participants thought that the district’s current methods of outreach do not do a good enough job at reaching all community members. One of the suggestions that we heard from a number of people for improving information dissemination was to use word-of-mouth and community members’ relationships to spread messages. The district could work with community liaisons who are embedded in their neighborhood to get the word out about important events.
Many participants also shared their thoughts on current misperceptions about City Schools. The overarching theme was that most of the news regarding the district is negative, which gives people the impression that things are overwhelmingly bad, when in reality there are many positive things happening in schools. Participants also commented about how many individuals form their opinions based on what is reported in the news or based on other peoples’ opinions, instead of exploring the schools themselves. To address this, many participants requested that the district make a much stronger effort to highlight student successes and change the narrative around the district. They want to hear about the positive things happening in the district, not only for the good of the district and city, but also to provide students with a positive vision of what is possible and to help students and teachers feel pride in their schools.