Monday, March 31, 2008

It Takes a Village...


I'm here today to present some, not-so-new findings; a new study from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University has found that community organizing can provide a significant boost to student achievement among young people from low-income and underserved neighborhoods.

For those of you slapping your foreheads in an "adoye" kind of motion, temper yourselves. It's easy to become wrapped up in the quagmire created by the multi-layered issues of this world. Sometimes we over look the simplest, and most attainable possibilities.

During a recent conversation with my teacher friend, she expressed concern that out of the 30-odd students she teaches, only four parents attended her exhibit night. That's atrocious by any account. But let's, for a moment, take the side of overworked parents. Though, it is likely that a number of the no-shows were the result of well developed apathy, there were probably a fair amount who may have just forgotten, or were honestly feeling too tired to attend. Either way, the issue remains, community involvement in youth development is low; the result - at least in part - of too much or too little, unorganized information.

Disorganization calls for order; but how do we reconcile interests and organize a community? The answer often lies in finding common ground. I have read complaints by people, in various communities, which run along the lines of any combination of the following:

1. My children have long since grown up and moved out.
2. Teachers should do their job better, so we wouldn't have to do their jobs for them.
3. I prefer to mind my own business.

In response to all of those statements, I reclaim; a new study from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University has found that community organizing can provide a significant boost to student achievement among young people from low-income and underserved neighborhoods.

If you happen not to live in an underserved and/or low-income neighborhood, please do not feel left out. I'm sure this finding would hold true across the board. After all, it takes a village to raise a child; no matter if that village's homes have dirt or hardwood floors.

All of this is to say, it is far past time for us all to start running our communities like our businesses (well, you know, before the recession...and the poorly planned, never-ending lines of credit). Let's consider our communities the way we consider our finances; invest our time and see our investments yield profit. Put aside the differences we may have with the neighbor whose dog craps on our lawn, or the church down the street whose views we believe to be too conservative and bond along our common interests. Communities hold masses of unexplored potential for power. Let's all start being more effective.

For ideas on how to be the most productive citizen you can be, refer here.

- Ashleigh Rae

No comments: