Dr. McKnight fielded questions directly from the community as well as from those raised by Identity’s Executive Director Diego Uriburu and Program Director Nora Morales; President of the NAACP Parent’s Council Byron Johns, parent Lisa Taylor and student Renee Boissiere. The hundreds of comments and questions submitted through the live chat suggest parents felt safe sharing their most serious concerns, needs, fears and frustrations.
Diego said, “I trust Dr. McKnight understands that she and school leaders need to continue to talk directly with Black and Brown communities. Research shows that when parents are engaged in their children’s education, the children are more successful in school. And this conversation proved once again that there is an intense interest among our parents to help their children and work in partnership with the schools.”
Identity’s Advocacy Program Manager Diana Silva watched along with parents. “The fact that Dr. McKnight not only invited our questions, but answered them is a big, big deal. For the first time, parents felt heard.”
Nora agreed, “Even though it was at night, after work and during dinner time, so many people turned out and wanted to do right by their kids. It was really inspiring.”
Dr. McKnight provided examples of strategies MCPS is pursuing to help students catch up and acknowledged questions about how the school system was addressing other issues of systemic inequity such as unequal access to advanced classes, newer teachers and principals being assigned disproportionately to the highest need schools, as well as the serious problems that arise when front office staff don’t reflect the school population. She committed to addressing some issues immediately and to meet with representatives of the Coalition to explore ways to respond to other concerns. Parents particularly appreciated that Dr. McKnight acknowledged some schools have an issue with racism leading to bullying, which is a subject they worry about but are nervous about raising with their Principals.