Parents Sharing Power in Salt Lake City Schools

By the Family-School Collaboration Design Research Project

If you attended parent-teacher conferences at a west side school this past fall, you may have been handed a small comic book about School Community Councils (SCC). That comic — and the parent leaders who handed them out — are part of a community-based research project working to increase family voice in school decision making.

The Family-School Collaboration Design Research Project is a partnership between the University of Utah College of Education, Salt Lake City School District, University Neighborhood Partners, and the Community Advocate Network, an intergenerational group of west side resident leaders. Over the past few years, we held a series of “design circles” that brought west side parents and educators together in the same room to design new approaches to family-school collaboration.

One product the group designed is a comic booklet that families can use to recruit other families to join School Community Councils. The comic — designed by parents and drawn by former UNP staff member Sarah Morton Taggart — informs families about SCCs and their rights to have their voices heard. It’s being piloted at three schools this year. Ten parent-researchers are using the comic to engage families, invite them to join their schools’ SCCs, and then support them once they are at the meetings.

We asked some of the parent-researchers to reflect back on their experience in the design circles.

“Diseño de Círculos ha sido una gran experiencia para mí. He tenido la oportunidad de conocer investigadores y aprender de sus experiencias. Esto me ha ayudado a comprender que en una investigación aunque se tengan diferentes puntos de vista, cada opinión es importante, la información es importante, los datos que se puedan recopilar son importantes; debemos tomar en cuenta todos los detalles. Es muy interesante, disfruto y aprendo mucho en cada reunión.”

“Design Circles has been a great experience for me. I have had the opportunity to meet researchers and learn from their experiences. This has helped me to understand that in a research project, although there are different points of view, each opinion is important. The information is important, the data that can be collected are important; we must take into account all the details. It is very interesting. I enjoy and learn a lot in each meeting.”

~ Laura Hernández

 

“Design Circles es una oportunidad para la participación de los padres para comprender mejor y compartir la importancia de ser parte de los School Community Councils.”

“Design Circles is an opportunity for parents to better understand and share the importance of being part of School Community Councils.”

~ Gilberto Rejon Magaña

 

“Ha sido muy impresionante para mi ver como el proyecto de Diseño de Círculos ha ayudado a mis compañeros de Community Advocates y a mi sentirnos más seguros de nuestra capacidad como líderes en nuestra comunidad. Me hace sentir muy feliz saber que nuestros esfuerzos como equipo de investigadores nos ayudará a mejorar el futuro de nuestros hijos.”

“It has been very impressive for me to see how the Circle Design project helped my fellow Community Advocates and I feel more confident in our abilities as leaders in our community. It makes me very happy to know that our efforts as a team of researchers will help us improve our children’s futures.”

~ Cristina González

 

“Design Circles me ha dado esperanzas para el futuro y la oportunidad de haser una diferencia en la educación de mis hijos. Sé que el trabajo que estamos haciendo hoy a través de Design Circles será el resultado y el impacto de años en el futuro. Sin embargo, saber que existe la posibilidad de que mis nietos se beneficiaran de este proyecto me da esperanza.”

“Design Circles has given me hope for the future and the opportunity to make a difference in the education of my children. I know that the outcome and impact of the work we are doing today will come in later years. However, to know that there is a possibility that my grandchildren will benefit from this project gives me hope.”

~ Noreida Garza

 

“Me siento muy afortunada de haber participado en un proyecto como Diseño de Circulos. En este proyecto pudimos aprender que nuestra voz cuenta, que juntos podemos hacer un cambio en nuestra comunidad, y que nuestros hijos tienen el derecho a una educación mejor y un mejor trato en las esculas. Tambien, aprendí lo importante que es asistir al School Community Council ya que es en donde se toman decisiones importantes. Crear el comic y ver como los Padres de familia se admiraban que hubiera sido creado por padres de famila — para mi fue muy bonito. Y fue una manera muy facil de explicar lo que es el SCC, ya que los cuentos son situaciones con las que algunos padres nos podemos indentificar. A las personas que crearon este projecto: gracias por su tiempo, información, y dedicación. Unidos podemos crear el cambio.”

“I feel very fortunate to have participated in the Design Circles project. There we could learn that our voices count, that together we can make a change to our community, and that our children have the right to a better education and better treatment in the schools. I also learned how important it is to attend the School Community Council since that is where important decisions are made. To create this comic and see that parents admire the comic because it was created by parents — for me it was very beautiful. And it is a very easy way to explain what an SCC is, since the stories in it are situations that some parents can identify with. To the people who created this project, thank you for your time, information, and dedication. United we can create change.”

~ Viviana Montaño