Why Is It So Hard For Families To Get The Respect They Deserve?

“We build relationship systems.” — Mia Howard, founder and CEO of Intrepid Schools in Antioch, TN.

Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting Intrepid Schools, a Tennessee Reward school (top five percent) and charter school. The interview with the school’s fearless leader Mia Howard has been on my mind as of late because of what she listed as Intrepid’s secret to success. Relationships and data; an unlikely duo where each informs the other. But what I loved most is that families are as much a partner in the school’s strategy for success as the adults working in the building.

Yes, Howard understands that without families she has no school and works to make sure her faculty and staff operate accordingly.

As I watch the Nashville School Board’s internal battles spill out onto the public stage I am sad for our city. When one-third of the board is fighting like hell to remove their one employee and another one-third is working to protect his job, little things like the 13,000 students in the state’s lowest performing schools don’t get the energy they deserve.

Parents are watching and contrary to popular belief, they are the taxpayers that matter most. We seem to ignore the fact that without them, there is no school district. There is no billion dollar budget. There are no six-figure gigs and millions upon millions of dollars in contracts that depend on the district’s failing of children. Finally, without families allowing the school district to educate their child, there is no reason for a school board.

Families fuel our district. For any elected leader in this city that refuses to honor this, please step down immediately. At a time when our enrollment is declining and our city is turning its back on the remaining families that populate or district, we need school board and district leadership to step up and bring our families into the fold as partners, not afterthoughts. See them as investors, not burdens.

Don’t get me wrong, parents are not without responsibility here. I know many parents are paying attention because they contact me, but I’m not the one that needs to hear it. Contact your school board member. Force them to see you and lead with you in mind.

During that interview with Mia Howard a year and a half ago, she told me partnering with parents is a no-brainer because “they chose us.”


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