There are many organizations like Counseling In Schools that exist to support the growth and success of children and families in New York City schools. We have had the good fortune to work alongside many of them for over 30 years, but few have engaged with us as true partners in the manner that Partnership with Children has. From co-writing curricula to co-creating workshops to co-writing grants, we share resources with one another in the spirit of developing the best services we can for the children, families and school communities that we serve.
When I saw the announcement that Rizzoli publishing was releasing Partnerships: Stories from Partnership with Children I knew this would provide an important point of reference for the impact of the work we all do.
I am honored to sit with Margaret Crotty, the CEO of Partnership with Children, on a panel at the launch of this book to discuss its positioning as the major contribution to education policy dialogues that I believe it should be.
Here is how I arrive at this opinion:
How are we measuring the success of children in school? In most city documents, news reports and public forums, data drives a narrative that generally culminates with many children labeled as failing. It is easy to see why data – grades, test scores and graduation rates – dominates the policy landscape, as it is simple to compile and can be quickly translated into focal points of actions designed to turn failures into successes.
While data is important and expedient for policy purposes, there is an equally important and complementary narrative, that community-based organizations like ours know intimately, which provides a more qualitative understanding of what children and parents actually experience as a success. This narrative is complex, personal, difficult to compile and needs time to fully bloom. Neglecting children’s lived experiences in schools in favor of a single numerical story is what I believe leads to failed policies and misdirected interventions.
Partnerships: Stories from Partnership with Children, offers a rare and important opportunity to see the images and hear the words of children that reveal an indispensable truth: it is the relationships they develop with caring adults over time that bring about success. The authenticity of the subjects captured on these pages offers well-focused snapshots into the universe of successful educational experiences that is generally only visible to those of us working on the front lines. To read an eighth grader’s words that describe her connection to a counselor which lead to her success in math, or to see an image of resolve on the face of a high school senior who joined a support group that communicates his determination to change the world, is to receive vital clues for where our investments in education should be made and what policies we should follow. Simply put, it is the people we put in place to support children that matter most when it comes to their success.
I am proud of our partnership with Partnership with Children and I am doubly proud to have an association in a limited manner with this book. If you have a comment and/ or would like to receive a copy of the book, send us a request through firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to get one to you.
All the best,
Kevin Dahill-Fuchel, LCSW