Major Finding: One participant described AISD District 3 as the Ellis Island of Austin. Not surprisingly, then, navigating language and cultural diversity was cited as the greatest challenge of these schools.
• Improve communication with parents. Many need face-to-face communication; others need social media. Word about what children/schools are doing well needs to reach parents, businesses, chambers of commerce, media, and the whole community.
• Provide support for parents. Some need parenting classes or parent encouragement programs. Parents need to be enlisted to help other parents. The family resource centers and parent support specialists were cited as important in helping meet parents’ needs.
• Decrease the turnover of teachers and principals. These children, many of whom are navigating a new world, need stability of sustained leadership in schools.
• Unleash the creativity of the campuses by decreasing control from the central office. Encourage professionalism by giving more responsibility to campuses to meet diverse needs.
• Give more emotional support to children and provide alternatives to jail and suspension for treating truancy that includes cultural sensitivity and prevention of bullying.
Major Finding: Businesses, faith organizations, social/cultural organizations, city recreational entities, and family comprise the community. These community resources need to be strengthened to support children and young people for success in school and in life.
• Housing issues were a grave community concern. Many children are left unattended in unsafe apartments. Apartments need to be forced to be up to code and encouraged to provide afterschool programs. Safe, affordable housing is needed in District 3.
• More community resources need to be provided for after-school recreational opportunities, especially for middle and high school students.
• Campus advisory committees (CAC) are the school’s linkage to the community, but many schools do not have strong CAC’s. The effectiveness of CAC’s needs to be improved.