What's Trust Got To Do With It?

What's Trust Got To Do With It?

Measures taken to turn around public schools and school districts such as closing failing schools, replacing principals and teachers, or breaking up large schools into smaller units often provoke public opposition due to lack of trust, a report from Public Agenda argues. Based on a series of focus group discussions, the report, What's Trust Got To Do With It?, found that parents in low-income minority communities are deeply concerned about low academic achievement and high dropout rates but feel loyalty toward their local schools and do not always realize how inadequate those schools are. They also tend not to believe that fixing schools will help solve broader social problems and are suspicious of decisions made by central district offices. When parents in focus groups were presented with arguments for and against each measure by a moderator they trusted, however, the researchers found that parents were willing to reconsider their initial reactions to some options. Funded by the Ely & Edythe Broad, Joyce, and Skillman foundations, the report offers ideas for building trust and promoting constructive dialogue within local communities, including laying the groundwork by communicating early and often, inviting the community to help shape a vision for school reform, and emphasizing small informal discussions over the standard "public hearing" format.