Education CAFE Overview

Chapter 5 of the IDRA EAC-South Family Engagement Web-based Technical Assistance Package

The successful Education CAFE model illustrates how to conduct authentic family engagement and support family leadership in education. This video presents key elements and information for schools and community organizations that are interested in carrying it out locally.

Some of the persons speaking in this and the previous videos are effective leaders in current Education CAFEs.

IDRA’s Education CAFE model is an innovation for school-family-community collaboration. Education CAFEs are based in a community organization rather than in a single school, and their sole purpose is to collaborate with schools to improve the success of students in the community.

Grounded in IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education framework, an Education CAFE is a parent group that is rooted in a community-based organization, rather than in a single school. And its sole purpose is to collaborate with schools to improve the success of students in the community.

Three components are central to the Education CAFE model

Community-based, Distributive Leadership – Education CAFEs are born in their communities. They must be connected to a local organization that commits to focus on education (among its other mission areas). Meetings are attended by parents, grandparents, students’ older siblings, neighbors and all who consider themselves custodians of children’s academic success and future. By rotating leadership roles, the Education CAFE is not dependent on a central charismatic leader and instead is based on a distributive leadership model.

School Partnerships – Education CAFE members come together and partner with schools in their neighborhood in order to ensure student success. Collaboration includes co-planning and sharing responsibility for outreach and ongoing activities that improve education in their neighborhood public schools.

Education Projects – Education CAFEs carry out education projects using actionable data. For example, they bring families together to examine education policies and their implications for children’s access to advanced placement, dual credit and pre-algebra courses; the state’s education budget; and college readiness strategies. They also meet with school administrators to talk about shared concerns. Some group projects have included campus visitations to introduce the new organization, open hearings with school board candidates, large public events to protest cuts to the state education budget, and surveys about how new graduation plans are being implemented and their impact on poor and minority students.

An Education CAFE (Community Action Forums for Excellence) is a parent group that is rooted in a community-based organization, rather than in a single school. Its sole purpose is to collaborate with schools to improve the success of students in the community.

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IDRA Education CAFE – A Structure for Families Transforming Schools in their Communities

IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education principles assert that families are the strongest long-term advocates for quality public education. When families are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, their leadership can lead to transformational change that benefits all children.

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Community Leaders Discuss How PTA Comunitarios Give Voice to Parents in their Children’s Education

IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework emphasizes connections among schools and communities to secure success for all students. One innovative Education CAFE (formerly called PTA Comunitarios) initiated in South Texas multiplied across the region. In this interview, four leaders of the nation’s first Education CAFE talk about their experience and passion for community engagement in education. The four leaders interviewed are Eva Carranza, Emilia Vega, Angelica Nava and Carmen Vargas. The conversation was in Spanish. What follows is a condensed, translated version. The full interview is available in Spanish through the IDRA Classnotes Podcast.

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Authentic Family Engagement through Education CAFEs – Podcast Episode 174

In this episode, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate, discusses how this innovative model has evolved and how you can start your own Education CAFE (Community Action Forums for Excellence).

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