The Danbury Public Schools (DPS) have been given funding by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to do a yearlong project to discover the root cause of educational disparity or gaps. What are the challenges students face during their education journey and what gaps or barriers stand in their way? How can DPS make learning accessible by providing equity to all students? It’s not just about being fair but about providing the services and student learning opportunities that help each child to be successful and ready for college. The project manager wants to hear from families, students, administrators, teachers and residents of Danbury about what they feel are the causes of some students not being well prepared for college and beyond.
Through a series of community conversations, focus groups and surveys, information will be gathered to determine the root causes of disparity. One might ask why we are engaging in this discovery. DPS wants to ensure that every child is well prepared through rigorous educational programming to be successful in college and education beyond high school. Research reinforces that education from birth to grade twelve is a required foundation to promote higher education. Research reinforces the need for early learning opportunities from birth that support higher learning. Through the conversations, groups and surveys, we want to better grasp where Danbury’s gaps are, and we value your input in helping us understand how we can change practices to better meet the needs of today’s students.
Judy Coco, the project manager, is currently reaching out to the Danbury community to set up conversations and focus groups. Community conversations will be held at multiple locations in Danbury, with childcare, dinner or lunch provided, and normally run for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Questions include: what is working well in our schools? What challenges do our students face in school? How are schools responding to students’ needs? How are you seeing equality vs. equity play out in our schools? What would you need to see to demonstrate equity in our schools? What other suggestions do you have to make our schools stronger? The focus groups will elicit lively conversations among those in attendance by offering a platform for honest communication and thoughts that honor everyone. The focus group format tends to be a bit shorter in time as the questions are less opened ended and are concentrated on known features of education disparity.
A survey is available through Survey Monkey in multiple languages at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/English_ParentSurvey
All information gathered is confidential and no names will be used. Please assist Danbury Public Schools in understanding the education gaps in Danbury and how we can do better in educating all children. If your agency, organization or neighborhood would like to host a conversation or focus group, please call the Family & Community Engagement Center at 203-797-4734.
Anne E. Mead, Ed. D., is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.