Dayton School District’s willingness to hear honest feedback from parents earns them kudos. Change and better communication, however, must go beyond forums with parents.
On Nov. 30, Superintendent Guy Strot fielded pretty tough questions and topics from forum attendees. According to the U-B’s Jeremy Burnham, “About 20 members of the public — including five children — attended the forum centering around Strot’s one-year and 90-day plans for addressing community concerns at the district.”
This is a great turnout, and we’re happy to see interaction centered on the quality of our children’s education. And we applaud the Dayton School District for creating this opportunity outside of school board meetings to hear from parents.
What troubles us is what’s behind the issues raised at the forum.
After expressing one or two concerns, one parent cut to the core of the matter: “I have had issues with administration saying it’s the teachers’ fault and the teachers saying it’s the administration’s fault.”
There were examples of this shared in the meeting itself: A parent’s email “hot-potatoed” around but, in the end, never answered, district employees contradicting each other over which students need more support.
What kind of example are we setting our children when those ensuring their education can’t even get on the same page or communicate expectations and responsibilities effectively?
This sort of finger-pointing only breeds more division. We must show our children what good teamwork and communication is and that starts with the people with whom we work.
To be fair, the Dayton School District is taking steps to address breaks in communication, although plans seem mainly directed at parents. It may be even more helpful, and effective in the long run, to turn this same attention to mending communication between teachers, district workers and administrators.
Yes, as Strot shared with Burnham after the forum ended, it was a good conversation with parents. But it isn’t just parent-district communication that needs help.