Public schools seek community support

The articles below relate to ways in which the community’s support and participation are sought by public schools:Public schools designated as ‘community schools’ surge in 3 years
Jun 1 2008
TOKYO, June 2 (AP) – (Kyodo)—Public primary and secondary schools designated as “community schools” to receive input from community residents in running operations jumped over 20-fold to 343 in the three years after such designations started in academic year 2004, an education ministry survey showed Monday. Schools including kindergartens designated as community schools by school boards, for instance, listen to representatives of parents and local residents in working out curriculums and hiring teachers or appoint coordinators who liaise between school and community, according to the ministry. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology expects 210 more schools will receive the designation in the current school year that started April 1.The designation system began in September 2004 with the aim of drawing community support in running schools and coping with problems plaguing schools such as truancies and bullying. Only 17 were designated in the first year.While the total has surged, the presence of community schools is not uniform throughout the nation, according to the ministry. They are concentrated in 29 of the 47 prefectures. The largest number of such schools is found in Kyoto City, where a local education board gave the designation to 110 schools.Of the total of 343 schools, about 70 percent, or 243, were elementary schools.

The ministry noted that the system has faced problems such as difficulty with securing people committed to school administration. Proposals of parents and residents in addressing problems such as bullying may not be heard by the school principal if their perceptions differ, the ministry said.


The origin and aims of the “community school system” is highlighted in the 2001 Yomiuri Shimbun article below:


Panel to call for U.S.- style community school system: Proposed changes could affect principals’ hiring, parents’ tuition burden

Yomiuri Shimbun

An advisory panel on deregulation will ask the government to look into the possibility of revising the School Education law in fiscal 2003 in preparation for the introduction of the so-called community school system, designed to increase participation by parents and local residents, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Monday.


The proposal is part of the panel’s final recommendations on deregulation to be submitted to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi shortly.


According to a draft copy of the final recommendations, the Council for Comprehensive Regulatory Reform believes legal arrangements, including the revision of the School Education Law, must be made prior to introducing the community school system, which is similar to the U.S. charter school system.


The envisaged system calls for opening applications for school principal positions to the general public, granting school principals the right to hire teachers and allowing parents and local residents to have a greater say in school management.


Under the system, schools would be allowed to set curriculums without being restrained by teaching guidelines set by the Education, Science and Technology Ministry.


Given more latitude in education policy, schools would be able to work out programs to tackle such issues as school violence, bullying and hikokomori–a behavioral disorder in which sufferers confine themselves to their rooms.


However, giving each school such leeway in its own management would require revising the School Education law, which for example, stipulate that principals shall be selected by prefectural or municipal boards of education.


The panel on deregulation also will formally propose studying the so-called voucher system, under which local governments would provide financial assistance directly to parents of nursery school students.



Fathers patrol to protect school, kids

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Fathers patrol the area around Suginami Primary School in Ishioka, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Fathers of pupils at Ishioka municipal Suginami Primary School in Ibaraki Prefecture have formed a community watch group and are patrolling the school zone on Sunday nights.
After vandals broke the school’s windows in June last year,
Tadao Horikawa decided to do something about it. He held discussions with fellow parents and a patrol group called Owl’s Eye was born.
The group’s members are all men as Horikawa, 40, thought such patrols involved certain dangers and that fathers who are not usually involved in school events should do their bit for the school.
The group, which has 34 members, patrols the school area every Sunday night for about an hour. On July 20, 13 members participated in a patrol.
The patrols are divided into two teams and begin patrolling after 9 p.m. Each member carries a flashlight and picks up trash during the patrol.
On the evening of July 20, the group encountered boys riding a bicycle without lights. One of the members warned the boys it was dangerous to ride at night without a light.
The boys listened politely to what they told them, but, according to one member, some children are uncooperative.
Manabu Okochi, 36, who participates in the patrols twice a month, said: “I decided to take part because I thought it’s better to do something useful than to sit idly at home. If I don’t patrol, my children ask me, ‘Why aren’t you out on patrol tonight?'”
Other members expressed satisfaction with the patrols, saying they were good for parental communication and they also offered an opportunity for them to get some exercise.
The patrol team has received a certificate of appreciation from Ishioka Police Station.
The police praised the group’s activities saying, “They’ve shown their passion for improving the community and have performed their duties well.”
According to the police, cases of stolen bicycles and property damage in the school zone are decreasing.
Shinichi Okano, 56, principal of the school, thanked the group, saying it had helped raise awareness among the school’s teachers, too.
Horikawa said: “It’s important to enjoy what we’re doing so our activities will continue. I hope we can continue to keep the community safe for our children.”
Besides wanting to continue to continue the patrols, Horikawa also said he hoped to increase the size of the group.

(Aug. 2, 2008) Yomiuri Shimbun



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