Kalamazoo Public School Project
Kalamazoo community is one that strongly believes in love, unity and liberty to build a strong community. Though the efforts of most institutions in the area especially schools and hospitals, it is clear that working together can truly solve some common public relations. Kalamazoo residents have several occupations the most common being management, professional and healthcare. Pfizer and Bronson Methodist Hospital are the highest employers in the community employing persons from all races. Further, the Western Michigan University has provided employment to several persons and also assisted in increasing knowledge through organizing seminars and community debates. Kalamazoo community has a wide ethnic make-up which consists of African-Americans, American Indian, Asian, White, Hispanic and a small group of other races.
The Kalamazoo African-American race is the largest in the community followed closely by the American Indian. For these reason these two groups strongly affect the public relations and community development in almost all sectors because they tend to be the majority in schools students, parents and even as employees in Pfizer and Broson Methodist Hospital, the two large employers. Kalamazoo community is determined to succeed by improving level of education in Kalamazoo Public School District, the largest school in the area. To achieve these goal the district public relation office gains support from Pfizer, Eaton Corporation and Stryker Corporation by assisting in funding district projects and providing solutions and ideas. The three corporation works closely with main institution in the district such as the Boston Hospital and Kalamazoo Public School.
To counter the current relation issues in the district Kalamazoo Public School through one of its well established elementary schools Arcadia Elementary School has organized a project. The project will focus on ensuring public relations issues in the district are addressed, meaning that the schools and the public must work together. Most public relation problems affect the entire Kalamazoo district though in different ways. The students’ school performance is affected by economic challenges and discrimination faced by black Americans for instance. Parents on the other hand face public relation challenges when assist students to improve in their academics as well as when assisting them get a good job after completing their education. Public administration office also faces major challenges in maintaining a peaceful working district considering that the district consists of a wide range of ethnic groupings. Therefore we can strongly embracer and support the current proposed program of Kalamazoo Public School.
Kalamazoo Public school project will involve bringing together school and community resources to solve the current issues. The school is privileged of having a number of students from different ethnicity. That means, it will be easy to reach all the groups in the community through the students. To utilize these resources the school will organize a fund rising that will be aimed at providing sponsorship to needy students as well as physically challenged. All students will be expected to participate and also invite their parents as well. The parent body comprises of a wide range of parents beginning with wealthy to poor, therefore ensuring that they all work together will better quality of education as well as reduce strain in poor students. Kalamazoo public school is also privileged of having the support of most media stations, such as the national broadcaster and a famous radio station. The media will therefore be strongly used to campaign to the parent and the entire community to participate in the fund rising program.
The fund rising program organized by the school will be aimed at providing sponsorship to needy students as well as encouraging parents to be involved in the learning process of the students. The fund rising program will involve the school organizing one day over the school section months whereby parents, school staff members, students and other members of the community will meet in the school to raise funds for the needy students and discuss the school curriculum. The meeting will assist in ensuring that different ethnic groups and financial formed classes to relate and interact. The members that will attend the meeting will be encouraged to contribute their level best without considering which specific student is going to benefit from the sponsorship. The program will also encourage parents to be involved in the curriculum development through providing suggestion on how to improve the current system. We find that some parents are actually specialists in certain fields like art, science and mathematics which are areas that need addressing in the school. Therefore, incorporating their ideas in these areas will not only encourage the students but also improve learning.
Competency will also be essential is designing and implementing the said program for it to yield the expected results. The program will be expected to raise enough funds to sponsor the needy students but at the same time, it will be essential to ensure its continuity by making it more interest intensive. Initial funds contributed will be ventured into other profit oriented activities that will ensure continuous flow of resources into the program. Moreover, to ensure competency the program will also strongly focus on selecting a team comprising of representatives from all the stakeholders that would be involved in selecting the students that would benefit from the program. This will ensure that all parties feel that the program if fair to all students and no student is left out. Communication will also be well structured, decentralized communication channel will be put in place to ensure any parent, student, public or school staff member is free to openly state a problem, solution or suggestion.
Kalamazoo Public School is confident that the program will achieve the required result of improving public relations though unity different stakeholders in the community (Whyte, 1989). This assumption is further backed up by Kaufamann and Kraay in their article “Governance Matters” which urged that all parties in a given section are contributors to economic and social growth. The program is also designed under the assumption that uplifting the needy in the society provides a platform for successful projects such as education, business and health (Muscat, 1994; World Bank Report, 2001; Elaine, 2002). However, the program strongly requires good communication channels for it to attract all the intended beneficiaries (Marcus 2005). Since there are several ways to counter interrelation challenges in the community, working together with the district administration will be an added advantage. Therefore the school should ensure the administration assist in the planning of the program to ensure the intended objective as well as the strategies are in line with community goals (Blainey, 2004). In addition, Kalamazoo program should pay attention to ensuring the school and community external and internal resources assist in addressing cultural competency issues. Meaning that the program will ensure people interact effectively irrespective of cultural and socio-economic differences. The aim of a well designed project will to improve awareness, weaken cultural differences improve cross-cultural skills and provide knowledge on different practices and worldviews (Jean, 2012); (Blanchett, Mumford, & Beachum,2005); (Marcus, 2005)
Perhaps the biggest barrier to achieving complete and effective implementation of the project is mobilization. Due to the fact that the school district itself serves such a huge number of students, reaching each and every parent, and enlisting their support. The whole school district serves a total of 12,504 students, which if it is assumed translates to a ratio of approximately 2 students per household, results in a rough estimate of about 6,252 households. In order to implement the program effectively, a very good network that incorporates a grassroots approach to organization is required. Establishing such a network and creating an effective organization requires time. As such, proper organization and communication will certainly be one of the most challenging objectives to achieve. Within this bigger problem, would be the matter of establishing effective communication channels. In order for the fund to be properly established and organized, the parents, in conjunction with the Kalamazoo Public School District, will need to establish offices perhaps in schools, to work in tandem with each other, and with the school district. The final approach used must have a very clear hierarchical structure in which there is no duplication of tasks and communication is two way. Perhaps the best way to achieve a cohesive and functional program would be to use the top down approach: such that the top most office is the first to be established before the other smaller offices are added to the program.
Another very challenging task when it comes to mobilization would be that of start up funds and initial personnel, more so when it comes to developing and implementing an effective program that requires community ownership to thrive. Selling an already existing program to parents might prove to be a very difficult task which makes it quite necessary for parents to pioneer the program, with a little logistical help from the school district. Key to community ownership, and perhaps also tied to the question of generating a sense of community ownership, is no doubt the question of information dissemination and education, with regards to what the program will be like, and how the parents will be required to contribute towards it. In order to enlist the help of many parents, furnishing them with information on how important their cooperation over the matter will be, will no doubt be a tough task, more so considering that due to socioeconomic differences that exist, not all parents will find the program important or helpful, especially parents who are financially stable.
Another barrier to the implementation of the program will be getting the parents to work together, more so considering the diverse ethnic makeup of the school district. Cultural diversity is naturally a hindrance to effective cooperation, a factor that may significantly harm the project, and its implementation. Furthermore, diversity may also foster to some degree, nepotism; which may significantly harm the credibility of the program, if cases arise in which the sponsorships and bursaries are not awarded due to merit. The latter statement captures one of the significant challenges the program is bound to experience: objective selection of needy students to benefit from the program. Seeing as parent organizations from each individual school will be charged with the responsibility of identifying needy students with the school, loopholes through which funds can be misappropriated will inevitably arise, not to mention the potential of the program being abused and wrong students selected.
When it comes to contributions towards the curriculum, parents may not be very knowledgeable on the subject of curriculum development, which may mean that contributions towards the curriculum as suggested by the parents may mostly be subjective in nature, and mainly aimed towards addressing a problem affecting only the concerned parents, or a particular area of the school district. As such, views and suggestions collected from parents are bound to clash, making effecting changes and achieving consensus on any potential changes a tough ask. Even in cases where the views are objective, actually effecting changes on the basis of recommendations made by parents may be a bit difficult, as the current structures do not allow for the active participation of parents in the curriculum development process.
Despite these setbacks that are bound to hinder the implementation of the program, the potential worth of the program if implemented is huge. Poverty is and remains the biggest challenge to the realization of the millennium development goal on education: completion of full primary education by all children. Effective implementation of the program, will not only result in no extra costs for the parents, or the need to constantly contribute funds to support the program, but also help fund the education of a number of needy students, eliminating the current menace of students from needy backgrounds dropping out of school. Furthermore, it will also allow for students incapable of paying their own fees to rest easy and concentrate on their own studies, perhaps one of the key reasons behind statistics showing students from needy backgrounds suffering when it comes to academics. Considering the fact that today’s economy is increasingly knowledge based, education is an important pillar for economic and personal; growth and development. The proposed program, while demanding at first, offers the opportunity for the education of countless students years after it has been started, all at the cost of the initial investment, in fact, if the program performs as well as it might, it can even spark off a nationwide adoption of similar approaches, contributing significantly towards the dream of free basic education for all.
As described above, implementing the program is likely to be quite demanding, as such, staff training is a feature that must be embraced within the program if it is to succeed. One of the key areas of training will be ethics and integrity. In order for such a program to benefit the deserving students, and to be run in a transparent manner, those in key positions must be people of integrity and strong morals. Secondly, staff must be trained in communication and man management skills. A huge part of managing the funds is “man management,” not only are very good social skills required, but proper communication is also key, more so at the initial stages, in which the support of a majority of the parents is required. One other area, in which staff development might be essential, is that of curriculum development. By ensuring that staff operating the potential centers established to collect parent views and recommendations for changes, are conversant with the curriculum, the program is bound to be more effective when it comes to assessing the recommendations worthy of selection.
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