Education and Community: The collective wisdom
of teachers, parents, and members of our community.

 

WHERE ARE WE COMING FROM?

President Clinton, in his 1998 State of the Union address, has given us a very clear mandate, no a challenge, to better education in America with what he calls a Call to Action for American Education: 10 principles. His 10 principles, discussed later, makes it very clear that the business of education is the business of the people of the nation. He has been interested in involving the community in education since he became president and before as governor of Arkansas. His vision for the 21st century is to have the community involved with the education of its people.

This sentiment is echoed by Richard W. Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education in his Fifth Annual State of American Education Speech in Seattle, Washington on February 17, 1998, titled "Education First: Building Americas Future."

And this I know for sure -- we are in a new time with new challenges -- and none is more important than this: never has this nation been confronted with the task of teaching so much to so many while reaching for new high standards -- that is the state of American education and America's first challenge. (Riley, 1998)

Schools, at the time of the birth of this nation, were the center of a community. (Kaestle p.29) With the dissolution of the nuclear family consider some statistics from an NEA report which cites from the Carnegie Corporation on the state of children (New York Times, April 12, 1994):

The writers of the NEA report assess these facts:

"These are alarming statistics that weigh heavily on students' readiness to learn. But before laying the problems of education at the doorstep of a decaying family and social structure, shouldn't we take another turn around the chicken-and-egg cycle? Shouldn't we ask what schools might do to diminish the number of unwed mothers and fathers? Can education play a role in breaking the vicious circles carving out pockets of entrenched poverty?" (New York Times)

In a recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll "Of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public School" the number one reason some schools are successful and others are not is the support and involvement of parents in the school and with their child's education. Further evidence of this concern is being answered by the President who desires to make schools a better community for learning. In addition, the recent formation of Americorps headed by Colin Powell to organize volunteer efforts to help communities and schools is further evidence. The general consensus is that the reform of schooling is a community project. The local community of yesterday is a virtual community today and tommorrow. Why this notion, which hasn't been successful in the past because of logistical problems, will work today, is that we now have the Internet which will permit schools to taste and experience the richness offered by other communities. The Internet will allow all communities to share their resources. The Internet offers the one main component all clamor for and that is equity. One form of bringing the community to the schools is through telementoring. My hypothesis in this research paper is that telementoring has a positive effect on the students and telementoring is a viable means of bringing communities into schools.

RESEARCH PLAN

Three surveys were generated and distibuted to students, parents, and teachers. All respondents are involved in telementoring. Fifty-seven students returned surveys, forty of their parents, and ten teachers.

Economically 48% reported family income below $30,000 per year and 52% above $30,000. Academically 18% were in the top quartile, 49% in the second quartile, 25% in the third quartile, and 8% in the fourth quartile. Questions on the surveys were designed to gather students' perceptions of the effect of telementors and their expectations of telementors. Teachers were questiones about the pedagogy using telementors and of intrusion of telementors. Parents were queried about safety questions and values brought by telementors. The results of the surveys will be explored throughout this research paper at appropriate times and be analyzed against existing research and observations.


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