Community Partners Share Responsibility to Support K-12 Schools

When it comes to increasing student achievement in K-12 schools, Secretary Duncan believes everyone has a role to play – teachers, parents, higher education leaders, business executives, community partners and the students themselves.

In April, the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Department of Education, and the Corporation for National and Community Service launched “Together for Tomorrow.” This initiative is working to engage local communities to meet the challenge to turn around persistently low-performing schools. The goal is to promote a community culture where everyone takes and shares responsibility for improving these low-performing schools.

In communities across the country, nonprofits and business leaders are working together to improve education.

Under Secretary Martha Kanter and Brenda Girton-Mitchell, the director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, recently travelled to Minneapolis where they met with civic leaders and educators to discuss their work to close the achievement gap. You can read Under Secretary Kanter’s reflections on the trip here.


  1. Parent involvement needs to be emphasized more, and schools need to get a lot more customer feedback. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced all administrators and teachers value parent involvement in academics. Some administrators and teachers seem to want to relegate parents to bringing treats to school, being PTA/PTO members and fundraising for the school, and value parents who only have great things to say about the schools. Even when schools appoint parents to curriculum committees, they often appoint parents who will sit there and not say much or parents who will agree with them.

    There seems to be no formalized mechanism in this country for schools to get feedback from the parents who are their captive customers. Even though school board members are often parents, elections don’t always attract qualified candidates. Additionally, the governance of the boards often prevent school boards from achieving much.

    Schools could learn a lot from the private sector about getting and using feedback from their customers for improvement.

    To be fair, a lot of parents don’t get involved too much in what is happening academically at schools. Many I speak with are happy if there children are getting good grades and don’t recognize that grades may not reflect whether their children are learning anything (one huge factor that encourages grade inflation). Getting rid of grade inflation and educating parents about what goes on in the classroom will help drive school improvement if soliciting customer feedback and acting upon it also takes place.

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