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Alexandria Moms Found 'Friends of ACPS'

The group aims to engage the school community, increase public awareness about ACPS, offer information about how to help improve the system and correct misconceptions.

Two Alexandria moms recently sent out a short query to neighborhood email groups asking: “Anyone interested in improving Alexandria public schools?”

The response they got back was overwhelming, and their simple question and its answers led to the formation of Friends of ACPS.

“We quickly discovered that a major issue confronting the schools is the missing or misinformation that lead parents to opt out of the schools,” said group co-founder Kristen Mason Coreas. “Additionally, abundant research indicates that the best predictor of school success is parent involvement.”

Mason Coreas and co-founder Lee Lynch said they seek to directly engage families of potential Alexandria City Public Schools students, increase public awareness about facts relating to academic progress and achievement within ACPS, offer information about how to help improve the system and correct misperceptions.

“We formed Friends of ACPS because we believe there are opportunities to improve both gaps that may be standing in the way of student achievement and perceptions relating to the quality of the school system,” Lynch said. “Our vision is to become a community of parents and other citizens who are working together—and with existing student- and education-focused organizations—to fill those gaps and correct those misperceptions to help promote greater academic success throughout the Alexandria City Public Schools system."

The group is hosting its inaugural and public meeting Nov. 3 in the T.C. Williams High School Rotunda Room from noon to 1:30 p.m.

At the meeting, titled “Getting the Facts and Charting a Course for the Future” parents and others will hear from group founders Lynch and Mason Coreas as well as ACPS Deputy Superintendent Madye Henson, Director of Communications Kelly Alexander and Director of Pre-K-12 Programs Gregory Hutchings.

"ACPS encourages community engagement in our schools. We know that it means additional support for our students,” Alexander told Patch. “I am pleased to talk with the group about how we can work together to support students and am always interested in how we can enhance communications with parents."

Several parents are also on the agenda to speak, including those with children at Jefferson-Houston School, Maury Elementary and Hollin Meadows, a Fairfax County school.

After hearing presentations from several other outreach ACPC officials, Friends of ACPS plans to form its goals and objectives and discuss next steps.

"Ultimately, our mission is that Alexandria City Public Schools will be recognized across the Washington, D.C., region as a successful and desirable public school system where families will be excited to send their children," Mason Coreas said.

James Moore November 02, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I would say that giving the group the benefit of the doubt that beyond the PTA, the direct channels to the school system etc that the work of the group will be productive. That said, there are very real problems that parents like me (w/ 3 kids in an ACPS school) are facing. While the flight from schools may be based somewhat on misinformation/conceptions, the decision to move or put your child in a 25k private school is taken likely by few if any. If the purpose is to remove some of the myths and shine a greater light on the real problems then I'm all for it. If however, there is some hope that better PR or information alone will solve our problems then parents' time will be wasted. While many of us may not have all of the insight on ACPS's plans to mitigate issues there are very legitimate concerns over the quality of our middle schools, quality of teachers across the system, classroom size, etc. Hope and "spin" only go so far. ACPS doesn't need another mouthpiece or forum to trot out the same lines. What is needed is better/more constructive input from parents (after myths debunked/real issues focused on) and more actionable results and taking the input seriously on the part of ACPS. And hopefully this won't just be a Mom thing... and will also include fathers (like me) who are just as concerned and will hopefully see this as an opportunity to join in a positive/productive effort.
Dr22301 November 02, 2012 at 10:50 PM
What ACPS needs is to have Arlandria razed, affordable housing abolished, and two or three new schools built.
Edmund Lewis November 04, 2012 at 03:24 AM
The "Friends of ACPS" and in fact all citizens of Alexandria should watch the section of the October 25 Virginia Board of Education meeting in which the Chairman of the Alexandria School Board, the ACPS Superintendent, and the ACPS Chief Academic Officer address accreditation concerns from the state board. It is eye opening and provides a clear understanding of how ACPS is operating (or not operating as it were) under current leadership. The section pertaining to ACPS begins at 1:40 of the meeting and last approximately one hour. It is worth every minute to watch if you care about our schools. http://141.104.220.130/usermedia/lifesizeplayer-1.1.swf?video_id=421 Parents and citizens within ACPS should be asking questions similar to those raised by the state. They should do as the state board and refuse to except PR spin and nonsense. Far too much time, money, and resources have been spent under the current leadership to hope that things will simply get better when the trend demonstrates otherwise.
Old Town Sue November 05, 2012 at 02:03 AM
I haven't had a chance to watch the board of education minutes, but I plan on it. As a Fairfax County teacher, I know firsthand that there are some very successful schools that are quite diverse, with a high number of free and reduced lunch students, and a high number of LEP students, right down around the block. How is it possible that ACPS can have very successful neighbors, but be so inferior? Can we start with studying what similar schools in the area are doing to build success with our students? It's not a secret.
Heather November 07, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I agree with Mr. Moore and Mr. Lewis that there needs to be real change advocated for in ACPS. While correcting misperceptions can help, there are numerous schools that have very real problems without misperceptions. It would be great to see the group push for actual improvments.

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