The number one concern that emerged during the recent Black Caucus retreat was parenting.
Soon after, national figures from Rep. Maxine Waters to Bill Cosby appeared in the media to discuss the kind of change that will help challenges in the black community–specifically, how, under President Obama, we can help to bring about more parental involvement as part of the educational system.
The model they are looking for already exists–and has successfully turned out generations of graduates whose lives, and families, have been profoundly changed for the better.
“I am thrilled that the Caucus and its attendees hit the nail on the head in recognizing that in order to meet the needs of black children in our public schools, we must reach the parents,” says Joanne Goubourn, head of school at the Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx, NY.
Goubourn, 51, is also executive director of the Hyde Schools Public School Initiative.
Hyde, founded in 1966, is a group of character-building, college preparatory schools–both public and private–whose program is based on the principle that every student is gifted with a unique potential, and in order to reach that potential fully, one must develop one’s character. To that end, parental participation has been mandatory.
Hyde incorporated a substantial family component based on the understanding that in order to influence children effectively, and to make a lifelong impact, educators must involve the student’s primary influencers: the parents.
“Character education is built into everything the kids do at Hyde,”
Goubourn explains. “But parental involvement is the key to student success. Parents create a character culture at home, practice the Hyde process of self-discovery just as their students do, attend monthly parent group meetings, and may also attend weekend retreats.”
For Goubourn, herself a graduate of the original Hyde School in Bath Maine, the Hyde School principles provided a new blueprint for education in America. Practical, effective, and replicable, she decided to take the Hyde model to the public schools. To date, she has started up four inner city schools, K-12, rooted in character education, including the Roberta Flack School of Music at the Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx.
At this time there are 450 kids in the school, with 400 more on the waiting list.
Isha Smith Allen, 29, one of the charter parents of Hyde-Bronx, says she “immediately saw something different” about the school’s priorities.
“In regular public school, all you get is a report card,” says Allen. ‚ÄòBut Hyde was the opposite.”
“Too many schools are focused on tests and achievement and do not focus on who the children really are, let alone the parents,” Goubourn explains.
“If we can address and embrace the whole child–their successes, failures, challenges, gifts, fears, family–we would be a better country. This is all part of growing up and negotiating a society.”