Collective Impact and Shared Accountability for Our Schools

By Elizabeth Garbe

Community Impact Director of Public Policy

Last Wednesday morning Mona Burton, UWSL’s Board Chair, Bill Crim (UWSL’s Senior Vice President of Community Impact and Public Policy) and I met with Senator Osmond. We were providing him with information on our neighborhood work and how the collective impact model can change the odds for entire communities. During our meeting we discussed the environmental and social factors—family income levels, parents that have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, lack of education, poor health (which impacts children), the classroom, and outcomes/test scores in schools. We agreed that teachers and schools cannot be expected to handle all of these environmental and social issues on top of providing an education on their own.

Shared accountability is key to collective impact work. Shared accountability means that all parties involved take credit for the success, as well as the failure, of the children and families being served. Data is not used to point fingers at any one specific group. Rather, data is used to assess and improve upon the strategies being implemented.

Unfortunately, the education system (and teachers in particular) have been taking the brunt of the blame recently for the outcomes of our children. Yet this is not something that they alone should take all the blame for. Do schools have things need to do to improve outcomes? Of course! But all of us need to take our fair share of the blame. We need to work together, forge new paths, and strengthen our public community schools to change the odds in many of our communities.  We can’t do it alone, but collectively, the possibilities are endless.

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