Monday, March 24, 2014

Chester Parents Unite to Improve Educational Outcomes for City

Parents at Chester Charter School for the Arts examine best parenting styles for academic success with author and educational researcher Hilary Beard. 

When Chester native Tasliym Goodman watched the documentary film, American Promise, with her husband and three eldest children, she immediately knew that she wanted to share the film’s findings about black boys and school achievement with her colleagues and other parents at Chester Charter School for the Arts (CCSA), a K-7 public charter school committed to preparing children to employ their intellectual and creative powers to enrich their community. Mrs. Goodman, in addition to being a parent to three children at CCSA, serves as the School Executive Assistant. Mrs. Goodman also is the founder of Parent University, a parent support group at CCSA, committed to building and sustaining meaningful and successful parent-school-community partnerships.

On Thursday, March 20, 2014, Mrs. Goodman’s vision came true. At Parent University’s monthly meeting, CCSA families, faculty, and volunteers gathered in the school's cafeteria to hear NAACP Award winning author, Hilary Beard present her most recent book, “Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and Life.” This book is a companion piece to the Sundance award-winning film, American Promise. Although the film chronicles the academic experience of a middle class black family at a New York City private school,” says Mrs. Goodman, “I connected to the film’s premise and the family’s struggle. Many Chester residents can relate to challenges portrayed in the documentary: discrimination, hyper surveillance, low expectations and the stigma of being a black boy.”

Carol Hill, Senior Vice President of The Chester Fund, and the parent of a black boy with special needs, adds, “I think it was shocking for all of us who have seen the film to see the tremendous challenges Idris faced in an extremely privileged setting. Even with well-educated parents and social capital, he faced academic barriers because of his race and the legacies of racial bias – [which are] often subconscious. In Chester, there is the additional barrier of socio-economic status.”

Mrs. Goodman, then added, “We need more individuals like Ms. Beard who are committed to sharing the most cutting-edge research and best practices with us.”

Ms. Beard, a Princeton graduate, began her presentation, by thanking CCSA parents. She stated "This is emotional for me because the minute I walked through the door, I felt like I was home.”  She later added, “There are not enough media channels to deliver university research to the people who need it most - parents and educators. No one got the memo that the traditional style of black parenting was no longer optimal. Many of us were parented under the authoritarian style; but the world has changed.”

During her presentation, Ms. Beard focused on presenting parenting styles and strategies that have been proven in multiple studies to be most effective in supporting the academic success of black boys.

She described three parenting styles: 1. Authoritarian parents who are highly demanding and monitor their child closely, but who are low in responsiveness; 2. Authoritative parents who are high in responsiveness, high in monitoring, and high in how much they demand from their children; 3. Strict authoritative parents, who are high in responsiveness and monitoring, but who place even higher demands on their children than traditional authoritative parents.

Ms. Beard referred to parents who follow strict authoritative styles, as "warm demanders" who set high behavioral and academic expectations, monitor TV and other forms of media, require their children to perform some chores, are responsive, and share decision-making. She noted that strict authoritative parenting styles can overcome deficits in family income and parental education levels.
After the presentation, Bashan Goodman, Mrs. Goodman’s husband shared, “Ms. Beard was really helpful. I can see the ways in which I adjust certain behaviors to support my children and it’s empowering to see that there is optimistic research available on our sons.”

CCSA Principal, Akosua Watts asserted, "This is exactly why we wanted Ms. Beard to share her knowledge with us. In order to build an outstanding school, we must have authentic conversations about the complex dynamics of racial bias with which our young CCSA scholars must contend. As educators, it is incumbent upon us to use what have learned from Ms. Beard to deepen our connection with families, intentionally cooperating with them in a way that prepares our students for achievement."  Hilary Beardconcluded, “You can see that families and educators are clearly collaborating and working in partnership, which is exactly what we need, especially in low-resourced schools.”

For more information on The Chester Fund for Education and the Arts or Chester Charter School for the Arts, please contact 

Hillary Sorin  at (610) 328-8180, or email

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