Gathered together on a Zoom call, dozens of students meet with Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Angélica Ramsey and give her their thoughts on issues ranging from the dress code to campus budgets.
On the days she gets to meet with them, Ramsey said it’s her best meeting of the day.
The student advisory council is one of five councils the superintendent rolled out to try to get input from people at all levels of the school district to improve campuses.
The five councils are separated by role with groups for support staff, teachers, parents, students and community/business respectively, Ramsey said during a presentation to the Women’s Policy Forum in March. Councils meet every other month.
The meetings are not intended to be one-way communication, Ramsey said. Administration is there to listen and take action based on what it hears.
“That’s the loop that we forget,” she said. “Sometimes we as leaders are like, ‘We asked you your opinion.’ And then we did what we wanted anyway. I call it the illusion of inclusion. That is not how you build trust.”
United Way President and CEO Leah King serves on the community council, and she affirmed that she feels heard in the meetings. The gathering typically starts with Ramsey and other administration sharing updates on the district.
Most recently, the district shared summer school plans and solicited ideas to help make it more successful, King said.
“I have not felt that this has been ‘We’re just doing this on the surface to say that we did it,’” King said. “They actually are very much interested in hearing from our community.”
To assemble the councils, Ramsey sent out a link in her weekly newsletter and sought representation across the district. Principals told their campuses about the opportunity to join the council for students. It’s too late to join for this school year, but those interested in next year can contact the superintendent’s office.
King sees common themes like the budget, enrollment and academic performance.
“I don’t feel that any of them are shying away from reality,” King said. “More importantly, they’re asking and inviting members of the community to help be part of the solution.”
Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.