Fostering Community Engagement through “Newark Education and Engagement Project”: The Next Step in Student/Educator/Leader Preparation at Denison University
Co-written by Megan Odell, Kellon Patey at Denison University May 2019
OVERARCHING MISSION: We want to use our Denison skill-sets and training to facilitate and empower the Newark community’s further participation in the education of its students. Through an updated course titled “Newark Education and Engagement Project” that also serves as an organization between the Denison community and the community of Newark, while simultaneously combining the curricular standards and practices of Critical Pedagogy, Community Service Learning, and Schooled By Design, the course will aim to first identify community needs. The next step will be to find the most appropriate and productive role that we as students can have in the school-community nexus, ultimately supporting efforts to make education that is more fluid between in-class and out-of class lives for students. This may take the form of workshops offered to parents about how to support their child’s studies, supporting the creation of a Newark Student Union, a new parent-teacher organization...we don’t know yet, the community will decide what its greatest needs are. No matter what the year’s central project is, neither students in this class, nor the Denison Education Dept. are seeking decision-making roles in Newark City Schools or the Parent community. Rather, we are offering up our skills to the community to answer community identified needs with the understanding that this work will make us better educators and citizens in the communities we move onto next.
DENISON STUDENT OUTCOMES-What that would allow for Denison studentsto engage in (i.e. students interested in teaching- elementary school, middleschool, high school, community college, higher ed, education policy)
UNIVERSITY OUTCOMES-What this does for the broader Denison community
COMMUNITY OUTCOMES-What this does for Newark, why would Newark wantthis collaboration/engagement?
FUNCTIONS OF THE CLASS:
16 CREDITS TOTAL OVER THE SPAN OF A SCHOOL YEAR
2 SEMESTER LONG COURSES, 8 CREDITS EACH COURSE
CO-TAUGHT BY 2 INSTRUCTORS (DR. LISA CLARKE AND ANOTHER INDIVIDUAL- EITHER A DENISON PROFESSOR, GUEST PROFESSOR, OR PERHAPS AN INSTRUCTOR/LEADER FROM NEWARK, OH)
THIS COURSE WILL HAVE A PAID COMMUNITY TEACHING ASSISTANT/ “COMMUNITY CONSULTANT.” THEY WILL BE BASED IN NEWARK AND CAN ASSIST THE INSTRUCTORS WITH THE LOGISTICS OF THIS COURSE, SPECIFICALLY DURING THE NEWARK CLASS SESSIONS.
MEET 5 TIMES A WEEK TO ENSURE DAILY ENGAGEMENT: 50 MIN PER MWF CLASS PERIOD/ 3 HRS PER T OR R CLASS PERIOD (Spent in Newark)
Activating Theories of Critical Pedagogy into Engagement with the Community of Newark, OH (pairing theory with the technical skills of translating it into real-world proposals, campaigns, practices, etc.)
Collaborating within a Team Setting in order to Reach Common Goals
Learning how to impact policy as engaged citizens: navigating the legislature/local gov, writing policy proposals, petitions, surveys, organizing meetings with representatives
Demonstrating an understanding of the history of critical pedagogy, the key theorists, and the current scholarship.
Producing verbal (oral and written) critiques of and responses to key texts written by scholars of critical pedagogy.
Learning to disagree in a public forum without being disagreeable.
Building an understanding of design thinking and improvement science principles.
Applying design thinking and improvement science principles when exploring solutions some of the most pressing issues in education.
Developing an understanding of the most pressing issues facing the education systems in Newark, OH.
SEMESTER 1 BREAK DOWN:
Students conduct listening campaign of Newark City School Families Students survey Newark City Educators and Leaders within Educational Community
-They can decide on the best methods for reaching all families -Students come up with contact list: PTA leaders, Principals, etc. -Community Engagement Component (CEC) vs. History/Theory/Policy (HTP)
OVER THE SUMMER: CEC- Schedule meeting of community leaders with the goal of talking about how to best reach at-risk parents, silenced families
WEEK 1: CEC- Establishing relationship between class and District Admin, Community Organizations, Schools, Leaders etc. (easy contacts: Superintendent, heads of PTA, OMJ contact, Think Tank, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc., principals, MHA, Adult Probation); HTP-Lessons about the multilayered levels of Education Policy, Education Organizing, and their Origins: National Level
WEEK 2: CEC- Hold a meeting with members of the Community of Newark and members of this course to discuss logistics, questions, plans, ideas, etc. Establish a system and plan for community surveying that prioritized disadvantaged households. Establish a set of goals and expectations between all parties involved; HTP- Lessons about the multilayered levels of Education Policy, Education Organizing, and their Origins: Statewide Level (Ohio)
WEEK 3: CEC- Establishing relationships with Community Organizations, Schools, etc.; establishing schedule in Newark for the semesterBegin developing listening campaign materials, roles, distribution, alliance with community organizations; HTP- DEVELOPING SKILLS FOR COMMUNITY SURVEYING: Empathy Building/ Active Listening/ Data Collecting Activities
WEEK 4: CEC- Finalize listening campaign materials, roles, distribution, alliance with community organizations, begin surveying; HTP- UNIT 1 BEGINS: Getting to know Newark, OH (3 total weeks): Guest presenter representing various demographics and aspects of the Newark Community are brought into the classroom (i.e. parent, people of color, recovered addicts, law enforcement, educators, faith based leaders, store/business owners) and engage with the lesson of the class led by the instructors, then will lead the last half of class to lead a discussion/ present on a topic of their own/ or lead an activity- (this happens each class session);Students learn about the demographics, economy, history, and culture of Newark, OH/ Guest Presenter
WEEK 5: CEC- Week One of community surveying; HTP- Students learn about the demographics, economy, history, and culture of Newark, OH (cont.)/ Guest Presenter
WEEK 6: CEC- Week Two of community surveying; HTP- Students learn about the demographics, economy, history, and culture of Newark, OH (cont.)/ Guest Presenter
WEEK 7: CEC- Week Three of community surveying; HTP- UNIT 2 BEGINS: Politics in Newark (3 total weeks):Students learn about current policies and legislation affecting Newark/ Guest Presenter
WEEK 8: CEC- Week Four of community surveying; HTP-Students learn about current policies and legislation affecting Newark (cont.)/ Guest Presenter
WEEK 9: CEC- Week Five of community surveying; HTP-Students learn about current policies and legislation affecting Newark (cont.)/ Guest Presenter
WEEK 10: CEC- Week Six of community surveying; HTP- UNIT 3 BEGINS: Education in Newark (3 total weeks):Students learn about the education systems within Newark, OH- K-12 public schools, higher education, community colleges, adult education/ Guest Presenter
WEEK 11: CEC- Week Seven of community surveying; HTP- Students learn about the education systems within Newark, OH- K-12 public schools, higher education, community colleges, adult education (cont.)/ Guest Presenter
WEEK 12: CEC- Week Eight of community surveying; HTP- Students learn about the education systems within Newark, OH- K-12 public schools, higher education, community colleges, adult education (cont.)/ Guest Presenter
Week 13: CEC- Week Nine of community surveying Meetings w/ dept. heads ahead of parent/teacher conferences; HTP- Students work with experts from Data Analytics or Political Science Departments on how to expertly analyze the data and publish a report
WEEK 14: CEC- Week Ten of community surveying Meetings w/ dept. heads ahead of parent/teacher conferences, drop off surveys to teachers; HTP- (EXTRA WEEK PUT IN PLACE FOR FLEXIBILITY IN CASE ANYWHERE IN SCHEDULE REQUIRES EXTRA TIME)
WEEK 15: CEC- Week Eleven of community surveying (Parents), Drop off surveys to teachers, Newark City Schools Parent-teacher conferences Wednesday 11/27; HTP- Students analyze data, draw any possible conclusions, and publish report with findings
WEEK 16: CEC- Select the community issue for the spring after feedback from community presentations and survey results; HTP- Students begin brainstorming for approach to next semester’s community engagement
Community Surveying Logistics:
Canvas high school/middle school sporting events
Door-to-door in priority neighborhoods
Parent-teacher conference component??
Training other DU groups to participate in canvassing if need-be (Greek life has a lot ofedu-related service focuses
Type of Survey-
Interview with a google survey on phone to collect quantifiable data that can be used in official report
Newark City School Logistics-
3 Middle Schools
1 High School
Total enrollment: 6,500
Survey Goal: 3,000
800 employees of Newark City Schools
Survey Goal: 400 (perhaps Schools can do this on their own?)
*Need buy-in from superintendent: Identify parent priorities, school successes, the free person-power to do a district-scale parent-outreach and survey project, compile quantifiable data, present to district officials, teachers, and parents, followed up by the offer to assist in solving whatever issues are identified*All outside class time is spent completing community engagement component
*Two-community TAs can assist with this work *Service cars to help with transportation to and from NewarkSemester 2:After analyzing the data from Semester 1 and drawing any possible conclusions, Students and Professors of the Course will decide how they want to approach Semester 2, and will spend the first 2 weeks of Semester 2 designing the schedule inside of Newark, and the units within the curriculum.
SUMMARY OF MOTIVATIONS AND GOALS:
History/Theory/Policy-Through a series of three 3-week units focusing on various aspects of Newark, OH’s history, demographics, culture, policy, and education systems, students will develop a broader understanding of their surrounding community outside of Denison and the chosen community for engagement within this course. Students will additionally work alongside and learn from 9+ Guest Presenters, who will represent multiple facets of the Newark Community. After their 11 weeks of community surveying, students will analyze the data they have collected, develop conclusions based off of the data, publish a formalized report, and create a plan for the following semester working off of the conclusions they developed and the root causes of the problems they have identified within the education systems of Newark.
Community Engagement-We want to partner with the community on a scale that Denison classes have yet to do. In order to make a meaningful contribution, we are recommending that we have a larger student class by momentarily offering a break in the usual Education Department Major/Minor offerings. We need to be in the community for a meaningful amount of time. Previous classes at Denison have shown us that if we want to break free from the extractive nature of our CSLs, which students and community members alike feel are not effective, students need to be on the ground in Newark six hours a week for a full academic year, not just a single semester.
Additionally, we have traditionally failed to put students close to the process of identifying community needs in partnership with actual community members. Sure we can study all the ways that populations of parents and students in Newark are disadvantaged, and make college-educated guesses about what might need to be done, or what might work. We could even take these guesses to district officials and local government, but unless we bring the community with us to these decision-making tables, our good ideas will remain useless. Partially because they aren’t informed by the people who would be directly impacted by any system changes, but also because the parents and voters in community don’t have ownership of the proposal.
This is a new type of CSL, one that connects students to parents in a way that better prepares them for careers in education as teachers, administrators, coaches, policy makers, non-profit starters, elected officials, the list goes on. This is because students will now have a role in organizing the community--a skillset that is excluded from our traditional curricula. In a nutshell, service doesn’t go deep enough because it doesn’t address root causes. Sure we tutor for twelve hours a semester, and that might help a group of 100 disadvantaged individuals (an extremely generous estimate) pass standardized tests this spring, but how are we changing things so that the next 10,000 individuals are less-disadvantaged and better served in the local education system.
Enter research, which also doesn’t go deep enough. Sure, now we analyze systems and make informed conjectures about what should change, but there is a lot of ground to cover after we record trends, document areas that need improvement, and, if the research goes so far as to include recommendations, suggest a few good ideas.The research baton gets passed to organizers--people who work to get entire communities of people to agree on the problems, translate research into concise lessons for regular busy people, and unite ALL the stakeholders around solutions. Additionally, after they have facilitated all this common ground, organizers give structure and strategy to movements. This is the ultimate intellectual challenge: how to change minds that are already made-up.
Semester One of NEEP, will consist of a district-wide student-led listening campaign that will prioritize reaching underserved and disadvantaged Newark City Schools parents to identify what they need in order to better be able to support their student in school. Students will meet with community leaders who strive to empower the voices of Newark’s disadvantaged citizens to inform the development of the eleven-week listening campaign effort. Questions on the actual survey will be drafted in collaboration Newark educators, parents, and Denison education professors.
We recommend that the listening campaign be centered on a five-minute survey administered during parent-teacher conferences in Newark City Schools in the fall. Students in the class will draft the survey, train teachers in administering it, then collect and compile the data before delivering a community report. This may require coalition work with district officials, members of the local press, and other community leaders. Additionally, students may need to supplement conference surveying with door-to-door canvassing in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Newark to reach families who can’t make parent-teacher conferences. This may require working in coalition with community associations, grassroots organizations, and faith groups to make sure we reach as many disadvantaged families as possible.