Making the Grade: It’s All about the Community

Why are our kids failing?  Patrick Welsh got it right when he answered that question in his Plain Dealer Op Ed piece last week. Welsh, a high school teacher in Virginia, says that students are failing not because they lack great teachers or opportunities or even because of race.  His own students told him they fail because they had no father at home who cared if they did well or not. Welsh’s observations are precise and chilling. Parents’ involvement in kids’ schooling is vital to their academic success.  It often is the “essential difference between the kids who make it in school and those who don’t.”   Kids need to know that their parents care.

So now what? We hear about the importance of parents all the time. What can we, as members of the community, do to help with this situation?  It’s time for all of us to address this issue.

Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio has had success getting parents involved with our Parents as Arts Partners Program.  The program is simple: schools are given resources to plan art activities for children and parents to do together.

Parents as Arts Partners program at a Cleveland School.

Working on art, side by side, demonstrates to a child that their parent has an interest in what is happening in that child’s life.  It gives both parent and child the opportunity to be creative together in a fun and relaxed way.  It brings the parent into the school building, an achievement for many who have often felt unwanted by schools. Parents as Arts Partners is a part of Art is Education, a partnership of Young Audiences and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

One parent said that the best part of the program was “…doing something positive with my daughter.”  Another agreed, saying “…to be able to paint with my son, something I haven’t done till this day.”

So, is this the solution?  It may be part of it and it may just be the beginning.  All we know is that it is working.  How can the rest of the community help?  Let us know if you have any other ideas or comments.

–Marsha Dobrzynski, Executive Director, Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio

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