When we discuss public schools, whose voices are at the table?    When curriculum is being developed, who has real input?   When decisions at the school level are being made, who is involved in making those decisions?   When policy impacting schools is being developed, who is speaking at the policy- making table?

Anytime I have seen a successful, thriving school community–no matter how large or small–there has been a deep-rooted organizational and cultural belief that as many voices as possible should be involved in the creation of that community.   It is through those many voices that something collectively strong emerges – an identity, a sense of self-efficacy, buy-in, mutual support, community, power.

As a grassroots school here in Baltimore, we posit that real decisions should be made closest to the ground and with many voices at the table.  Whether through our parent-school cooperative, our commitment to teacher autonomy and voice, our myriad avenues for student voice and advocacy, our Boards–which are comprised of parents, students, teachers, and principals–our commitment to emergent learning, or simply the way we strive to dialog, assume the best intentions, or be in partnership, we believe in the ideals of democracy in education.

Democracy isn’t always perfect or efficient.   Sometimes it can be downright messy.   But whether it’s deciding new initiatives, creating community events, hiring staff, constructing and approving our budget, revising our bylaws, changing policy, or just having conversations about things that matter to us, it is our commitment that those of us who are closest to our students, to our mission, and to each other are the co-creators of this educational experience for children today, tomorrow, and for decades to come.

Beginning this year, we want this platform to be one that showcases many voices – teachers, students, parents, Board members, community partners, school leaders, and more.   These are the voices of our community, our creation, and the heart of public education here at City Neighbors.

Welcome to the new City Neighbors Foundation Blog.

Mike Chalupa, Director