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Public Education Advocacy Group Recruits Volunteers to Survey Teachers

A+ Schools is looking for volunteers for their fifth annual School Works research project, to survey principals, teachers and counselors at Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Executive Director Carey Harris said that this year, in addition to asking school staff about the resources and opportunities, they make available to their students, teen volunteers will survey their peers.

“We’ll be asking students about their experience with teaching, what’s working for them and what isn’t, and what do they think needs to change,” Harris said.

The idea to survey students themselves was borne out of the effort to create a Student Bill of Rights, an effort that was spearheaded by A+ Schools’ TeenBloc program.

“Their goal is to survey 400 Pittsburgh Public Schools juniors about many of the same issues that we’ll be surveying the adults about, that are aligned with their student Bill of Rights,” Harris said.

Harris said, in years past, the results of the School Works project have helped to inform the nonprofit organization’s advocacy agenda.  Through advocacy, they have affected real change in the city’s public schools.

“We now have an open application process for advanced placement courses and honors courses in the district,” Harris said. “Five years ago when we started this, we found that very few kids had access to Advanced Placement or Honors courses because you had to have a gifted IEP (individualized education plan).”

Harris said volunteers must go through a two-hour training process, which will take place next week.

“And then you get to go peek behind the curtain, and you get to meet school staff and find out first-hand what it takes to make schools work,” Harris said. “Our volunteers over the past five times we’ve done this project have just had a great experience … They learn a lot, and they feel more committed to our kids, and more connected to our public schools as a result.”