Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle

CPPS is a local, grassroots network of parents and community members working together to support and advocate for excellent public schools in our communities, and at the district, city and state levels.

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June/July, 2011
Another Year, Another Opportunity (or several)

Ahhh...the end of the academic year signals a rest from the whirlwind of school-sponsored activity and time to reassess our district's progress in light of upcoming school board elections and a new Families and Education Levy.  As we continue to adjust to the student assignment plan, to curriculum alignment and to leadership changes, our families are getting to know Superintendent Enfield and watching her progress as she leads Seattle Public Schools into its next phase.  


CPPS is adventuring into its own next phase after the successful completion of two rounds of parent leadership training in southeast Seattle.  We have heard from the more than 65 parent participants that opportunity to learn about our school system and address the challenges of parent engagement is powerful.  During the summer, these folks will initiate action plans to make a difference in their communities:

  • connecting schools with their neighborhoods,
  • developing strategies to help families feel more welcome at school, and
  • defining "quality neighborhood schools" for the southend.

And there are opportunities for parents to engage citywide. Learn about CPPS initiatives for 2011-2012 -- if you would like to be part of a conversation about a long term science vision for our district, or have thoughts about middle school rigor, there are opportunities this summer for you to contribute.


Contact us to join a short-term study or advocacy group, apply to be a parent leadership coach, or take a look at this month's issue of  Seattle Magazine to learn more!


Finally, those of you unable to join us at last month's CPPS Annual Meeting will have opportunities this summer to hear or see exerpts from a compelling conversation about 21st century parent engagement with Dr. Enfield. And as always, we appreciate your donations and volunteer support in order to do this work.   



Share your thoughts with us too, via email, or  Facebook.


INVEST IN ENGAGEMENT --  A Southeast Seattle  Story

How can parents engage for quality schools in their own neighborhoods? 

The results of the Open Choice round of student assignment are finally in, and most families are heading into summer secure in their school communities or in their new placements.  Its typical, however, to hear from several parents concerned with their assignments.  An email last week read:

"So......  I am starting to think maybe I need to work on supporting my local neighborhood school (Emerson).  The age old question is, how can an individual make a difference...." 


Many families, faced with a difficult placement, choose to flee (to private schools, new communities, neighboring districts or Option Schools) rather than to fight when the neighborhood school doesn't feel comfortable. Nevertheless, our local schools need our investment.  


In an occasional series, CPPS will highlight the stories of those fighters who dig in with their community schools.  For these folks, parent engagement means getting to know and working to improve our neighborhood schools, and the investment can start even before the student does.


Jen and Graham Ayers began engaging in Hawthorne elementary last year, and in response to the emailer above, shared these words of investment: 


"I'm personally thrilled to hear that you are wanting to get involved with your neighborhood school. 


(We) started getting involved at Hawthorne two years ago when our son was 3 (He starts kindergarten there in September).  Like you, we wanted to get involved. We had heard many negative stories about the school and decided we needed to experience it firsthand. We just walked into the school and asked the front desk person how to volunteer. By working in the classroom a couple hours every Wednesday morning...we got to experience the school, teacher, kids, instruction, feel, energy first hand. The school welcomed us with open arms. But I think what was important is that we kept showing up. I think the teacher thought we'd come for a week or two to check things out and then not show up again.... Consistent efforts helped develop a strong, open relationship with the teacher, office head and the school principal. 


We have found that it is very important to forge relationships by offering your time and energies and assistance in the ways the school could best use you.....because we forged positive relationships with people there...we learned a lot about the inner workings of the school AND were able to offer oour own input about what kind of school culture, programming and curriculum was valuable to us.  


From there we helped spread the "real" word about Hawthorne on neighborhood online groups, at social gatherings etc. We also started a Google group for folks to share info about Hawthorne.  We held potlucks for Hawthorne-referenced families so folks could learn more about the school and each other. This past year we helped out with the school's first ever auction. It was an amazing event that raised almost $40,000 for the school. 


Working in the classroom isn't the only way to help/get involved (although if you can find a way to contribute ANY kind of time volunteering weekly during school hours, I think it's one of the best ways to show your support and commitment, as well as get a lot back (firsthand knowledge/experience). I don't know if Emerson has a PTA or Parent Group, but find out if they do (again, just walk into the school office, introduce yourself and ask), and attend meetings. Attending social events is also a good thing to do. Hawthorne has Multi-cultural night events and Math Nights and other performances that are open to the public. 


I personally believe that the best way to help lift up our schools (especially in SE Seattle), is for us to get involved, develop relationships, work together and send our kids! Building a positive community around the school is key."


That's the kind of investment that makes a difference for our schools.  Hopefully, we'll see more of it!






Seattle Public Schools is conducting its family surveys.  Please respond before Friday, June 17th to have your perspective counted!  QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS TO Nicole VanVoorhis



Saturday, June 18th --Families and Education Levy Kickoff 10:30 - 11:30am

El Centro de la Raza 

2524 16th Avenue South, Seattle  (Beacon Hill)

Hear from Mayor McGinn, Norm Rice, Councilman Tim Burgess!

Get involved



Tuesday, June 21 -- last day of school for elementary and K-8 

Thursday, June 23 -- last day of school for secondary 

                                                   PLAN AHEAD

2011-12, 2012-13 Calendars Released


Vacation schedules will be changing in the years ahead. Seattle Public Schools has just released calendars for the next two academic years with a surprise in store.  Mid-winter break will become a 4-day weekend, rather than an entire week off school by 2012-13.  The 2011-12 calendar is similar to this year's. 

Through forums, study groups, newsletter communications and more, CPPS brings parents and community members together to discuss issues, get informed, engage, advocate and lead for excellent public education in Seattle.  

We need your participation.  Contact us for more info: 

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Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle