Creating and Nurturing a Diverse, Supportive Community
We are committed to being inclusive, respecting and valuing the many cultures that make up our school community. We are committed to ensuring equal access, making sure that the families of all students can participate effectively in the school’s programs and activities. We know that students do better in school when their families are actively involved in the education process, both at home and at school. So, we are committed to provide parents with the information and opportunities they need to participate in their children’s education. We believe in the importance of fostering dialogue between all families and creating a space where the children and adults can form one community. Finally, we are committed to creating an environment in which all stakeholders treat each other with respect.
These words reflect our intentions and goals and guide us as we design activities that involve families. These principles influence the way we structure community events, family involvement opportunities and fundraisers. They apply to all programs and events organized by Edison Language Academy, its PTA, ELAC, School Site Council, and any other groups authorized by the school.
To build bridges across language differences, we:
- Provide all communications from the school and its parent groups in both languages;
- Conduct public events in both languages;
- To the extent feasible, alternate the language in which translation is offered;
- Work with after-school partners so that homework support is available in both languages;
- Establish homework buddies in classrooms as appropriate; and
- Encourage and support the PTA publication of an annual school-wide telephone directory to facilitate communication.
To provide parents with meaningful opportunities to participate in their children’s education and build capacity for involvement, we:
- Provide parents with information on the school’s curriculum, forms of assessment and how to measure progress, state and district standards and the proficiency levels students are expected to meet.
- Provide parents with training in the essential components of reading instruction; independent reading and use of the public libraries; curriculum, assessment and assessment results; use of technology; and information about the parental involvement provisions in Title I ESEA;
- Provide various ways that parents can receive information and make suggestions and participate in decisions about the education of their children, such as monthly PTA Association, ELAC, and Site Council meetings, periodic advisory committee meetings, an annual parent survey, and periodic informal “chats” with the principal.
- Develop an annual school-parent-student compact that describes the activities that different members of the community will take to help students meet high academic standards;
- Provide volunteer training to support parents’ comfort and skills in volunteering in their children’s classrooms and make sure all volunteers are familiar with expectations for volunteers, student safety provisions, and student confidentiality;
- Hold parent-teacher conferences at least annually in the language most comfortable for parents;
- Meet with parents to develop Student Success Plans if students are experiencing academic problems and meet to monitor student progress toward goals in the plan;
- Publish a clear family-school communications plan so that parents are aware how information is disseminated, ways to share information with the school, and the process for sharing concerns and resolving issues.
- Provide opportunities for parents to visit and observe in their children’s classrooms, and confer with their children’s teachers in ways that also protect instructional time and do not disrupt the instructional process and which are consistent with the State Education Code).
Being sensitive to the fact that ours is a community with diverse economic resources, we:
- Design special events so that families can afford to participate keeping food prices as low as possible and ensuring free or low-cost entertainment options.
- Structure fundraising so that all parents have ways to support the school financially (mixture of low- and higher-cost items, a combination of bids and raffles at auctions, opportunities to stagger donations across the year, etc.). We understand that this may mean that we run more fundraising events or drives than do schools who can more easily rely on one or two modes of fundraising, but this also provides opportunities for all families to participate in supporting their school in ways that are appropriate for them.
- Ensure that prizes that directly involve children doing something high status or fun at school (outings with teachers, teacher for a day, limo rides, etc.) are accessible to a wide variety of children, for example through a raffle structure instead of simply going to the highest bidder or earner. Prizes that are awarded to top earners or fundraisers should have an equal number of “winners” who are chosen by lottery from among children who participated in the event with or without raising money.
- Dedicate time and resources to raising scholarships for special events (such as the 5th grade Catalina trip) that cannot be supported by school funds so that all children with a family financial need can participate. Spread minimum family payments out over time and award scholarships in a manner that safeguards family privacy and dignity.
- While we are guided by lists of children participating in the free and reduced lunch program in awarding need-based scholarships, we also let parents know that they can confidentially make us aware of a need even if they do not participate in the lunch program. We do this in part because we recognize that some low-income families choose not to participate in public programs.
- Distribute income-based food baskets and services to children from partnering community agencies in a manner that safeguards family privacy and dignity.
- Do not partner with outside agencies that have a policy of discrimination.
- Work to reduce paper use, but do not rely solely on e-mail, listservs, or websites for communication because about 30% of our families have no home access to the Internet. We are committed to using a combination of print, telephone, and electronic means of sharing information with parents and assure that there is always an alternative.
To promote understanding and respect for each other’s cultures, we:
- Teach and model respect for all cultural groups represented in the school and larger community.
- Ensure that special events, assemblies, concerts, observations of holidays, etc. reflect the history and traditions of various cultural groups represented at Edison. We understand the “cultures of the Americas” to include many different races/ethnicities.
- Consciously work to avoid scheduling school events and meetings on days or evenings that are important religious observances for members of our community.
- Explain the background of traditions or practices that may not be common across cultures and welcome the participation of all groups. For example, a tamalada at Edison includes lessons and recipes; a dance includes modeling of dance steps and a chance to practice together; a silent auction includes instructions on how to participate; a Día de los Muertos observance includes docents and altar tours.
- Participate in events highlighting each other’s cultures as a way to learn more about one another.
To make it easier for families to become acquainted, create community, and reinforce the school’s goals of multiculturalism and bilingualism we:
- Recruit and train bilingual room representatives to contact parents in each classroom and facilitate their involvement in school events.
- Dedicate some of the time of the school’s Community Liaison to help with communication about school events.
- Sponsor several school-wide events each year simply to gather together and celebrate language and culture. While these events may generate some revenue or have a fundraising arm attached to them, their primary purpose is to build community.
To raise funds to enhance the learning experience for all students and to supplement the school’s ability to help vulnerable students, the school and the PTA develop an annual budget plan collaboratively, guided by the following questions:
- Are we raising funds for programs that can benefit all children, advance the core mission of the school, and help us close achievement gaps?
- Are there a variety of ways that parents can contribute financially to the school?
- Are there events that add value or provide a service to families and children who participate (for example, Book Fairs, the Jogathon, some of the services offered through the Silent Auction)?
- Do we recognize contributions in such a way that the families on our campus who cannot contribute do not feel stigmatized or that their children are excluded from recognition?
- Are there opportunities for families to solicit support from co-workers, extended families, or neighbors so that the burden does not fall always on the family? (product sales, direct donation, sponsorships, etc.)
- Is the product we provide in any sale useful for families and appropriate for young children?
- Do we structure student incentives in such a way so as to be fair and inclusive?
- Do our methods to encourage student and family participation in fundraising minimize impact on instructional time?
- Is the event consistent with Edison’s core values and the health and safety messages we want to send to families?
We have also considered which ways are most appropriate and accessible for our community to provide support for the Santa Monica Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF). Edison benefits greatly from the revenues that SMMEF raises and gifts to the schools. However, we are not typically a community where many can respond to a “big ask” for a direct donation. While some families can make a large annual contribution (and are encouraged to do so) contributions of $300, $500, or $700 are not possible for many members of the community. The school and its PTA support SMMEF wholeheartedly, and remain committed to finding ways that are comfortable for our community to support this important initiative. The Edison PTA was one of the largest contributors to SMMEF last year, allocating a percentage of all funds raised by the PTA through to support SMMEF programs and plans to continue to do so this year.