school open to inquiry about your
of a healthy school is the
willingness, even enthusiasm, of the
leadership and teachers to establish
a process for parent communication,
including visits to the school.
Obviously, there will be
inconvenient times for you to sit
down with your child's teacher, but
it is a real danger sign if school
personnel do not have time to meet
with parents, never initiating
communication with you or responding
positively to your overtures.
contact regarding your child's
achievement and development, do the
teachers help you to understand what
you can do at home to reinforce what
is done at school?
educators in a quality school know
that the parent-teacher partnership
is the cornerstone to effective
teaching and learning.
Are you welcome
to volunteer your time and talents
to the school?
there is a parent volunteer program,
is involvement perfunctory or are
your professional, business or
parenting skills used in meaningful
ways within the curriculum and
program, consistent with the mission
and goals of the school? It is also
essential to have a forum for
parents to work together,
emphasizing group awareness and
Does the school have strong
Schools do not need authoritarian
leaders; schools do need leaders who
have the ability and personality to
organize and inspire, to represent,
articulate and evaluate. The
successful school has leadership
that is knowledgeable and forthright
and contributes to an atmosphere of
respect, trust and open discussion.
Are all faculty
and staff involved in the school,
analyzing needs, solving problems as
a team, helping the leadership to
make decisions which will improve
research is emphatic: Teachers,
students and parents must feel pride
and ownership for their school to be
effective and successful.
Is there a
clear mission, a statement of
philosophy about what the school
family believes in?
there is no mission discussed
frequently or displayed prominently,
there is often no sense of purpose
Based upon the
mission — whether it is written or
simply understood — is there an
action plan defining where the
school is now, where it is going and
how it plans to get there?
there a written curriculum, or is
the school a hodgepodge of courses,
activities and services without
focus and coordination? Common sense
suggests that order is imperative.
Are there high
standards for your child and all
students in the school?
does the school provide the support
that children need to succeed? Are
there Advanced Placement (AP) and/or
International Baccalaureate (IB)
programs offered? Teachers must be
well prepared to provide that
support; this includes ongoing staff
development and access to the
physical resources necessary to meet
the needs of all students.
Is the school
physically attractive, the buildings
and grounds clean, neat and well
everyone has pride in the school,
everyone will help to maintain it.
Does the school
have a way to measure student
achievement and is it communicated
careful of this one. Standardized
tests, within the grades, are not
the end-all of instruction: You
should know what your child
understands and can do, beyond the
taking of tests, so a portfolio
including your child's work, in
secondary as well as elementary and
middle grades, is an important part