Demographic shifts require changes in school communication

Changing demographics are creating new school communication challenges.

Unprecedented demographic shifts in the U.S. are creating a communications gap between teachers, principals, and the students and families they serve, forcing educators to rethink their school communication strategies.

Minorities will become the majority of children under 18 by 2023, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Educators and school communicators, on the other hand, are predominately non-Hispanic white females.

The gap is also socioeconomic in nature, because children of color are often poor as well, while teachers and other school officials are solidly middle to upper-middle class.

In terms of education, the gap widens even further, with educators holding more advanced degrees than most other American workers have—including their students’ parents.

All these trends will require profound changes in parent engagement and school communication, as well as classroom instruction.

Tried-and-true school communication methods, such as fliers, memos, teacher notes, eMail messages, and newsletters—typically written in college-level English—aren’t going to reach parents who struggle to read or who might not be literate in their own native language.

Connecting by phone is also a challenge with parents who change cell phone numbers and move frequently to stay one step ahead of the bill collector.

Home visits are more difficult to have with families who bounce between homeless shelters, relatives, friends, hotels, and other temporary housing.

These issues make school communication with many families more difficult and complex, though not impossible.

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