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[personal profile] flea
I feel like I've been working pretty continuously - at some times quite hard - since school started in early August to get a Girl Scout Troop going at Casper's school. And I've "succeeded" - we have 4 leaders, so we can run both a Daisy (K-1) and a Brownie (2-3) troop, we had a parent meeting on Monday and have about 12 girls all signed up, and I expect to add several more who are definitely committed and couldn't come to the meeting.

But I feel like I've failed. 85% of the girls are white and upper middle class. The demographic mix of the school is only about 25% white, varying a little by grade. The paraprofessionals who ran the troop last year at after school (all of whom left the school, and after school is not an option any more because of a new district policy - we are meeting on Tuesdays at 6pm at a friendly church, kill me now I did not want to meet on a weeknight but the people present voted for it) managed to run a Junior troop (4-5) as well, and pull a lot of black and Latina students, with 60 girls total.

I don't know how they did it, except maybe having existing relationships with the girls and parents, since they worked at the school. I have tried really hard to send print messages home as well as emails for people without internet access, and to send all messages in Spanish as well as English. I always emphasized that there are financial scholarships for girls who can't afford the $12 registration fee (sadly, there are a lot of families in this situation - including one of our troop leaders. 39% of the children in the city live below the poverty line (which, remember, is only about $21,000 for a family of 4), according to the new American Community Survey data.) And the turnout was all people like me. I guess we keep trying to recruit. I have some names that we can try phone-calling, but I am terribly phone-phobic; maybe my co-leaders are braver.

I'm just so worn out by it all, and we haven't even started actually meeting.

Date: 2010-10-13 02:36 pm (UTC)
sara: S (Default)
From: [personal profile] sara
Have you called everyone who was in it last year? That's how I'd start. There might be a feeling that the Nice White Ladies have taken it over and everyone knows what Nice White Ladies want so we'll just back off until we see what they're like (I delight in turning NWL expectations on their heads, but that takes time and practice and experience with a given group).

Date: 2010-10-13 09:26 pm (UTC)
sara: S (Default)
From: [personal profile] sara
I wonder if the local GS org would have a list.

And yeah, I think being somewhere not-at-school would be a biggie. We have a semi-active Boy Scout troop at school but can't get anything going for girls (and I wouldn't let my kids get involved with Boy Scouts, so that rules that out). We do have afterschool choir, which is paid for by the parent org. I can't imagine signing up for anything else in the evenings -- right now we are often out four nights a week, which is killing us.

Date: 2010-10-13 04:53 pm (UTC)
loligo: Scully with blue glasses (Default)
From: [personal profile] loligo
Here are some patterns that I've noticed in our racially and economically mixed school district: (1) white parents are often interested in getting their daughters into Scouting at the Daisy level, whereas the parents of African-American and Latina girls are more likely to get their daughters involved at the Brownie or Junior level. (2) For economically stressed families, having the meeting after school, at the school, makes a HUGE difference. I'll bet a big chunk of your difference from last year is right there.

I have more to say about this, but I have to go pick up Squeaky....

Date: 2010-10-13 06:12 pm (UTC)
loligo: Scully with blue glasses (Default)
From: [personal profile] loligo
The social dynamics of scouting in our school district are really weird. First off, each of our elementary schools only covers two grades; that's how they handled integrating the district back in the '70's -- all the kids in town go to one school for K-1, then a different school in a different neighborhood for 2-3, and then another for 4-5. So it's kind of hard for kids to make friends outside of their age cohort.

So, four years ago when the current 4th graders were in K., no one stepped up to start a Daisy troop. So when that cohort got to 2nd grade, there were a ton of girls waiting to get into scouting, and when my co-leader Delora started a Brownie troop two years ago, it was a big racially and economically mixed troop (also, it met after school, and the 2-3 school happens to be located in the town's predominately black neighborhood). Now, when the current 3rd graders (like Chuckles) were in K, someone *did* start a Daisy troop. I didn't sign Chuckles up, because she just wasn't socially ready. That troop was mostly professor's kids, and it's entirely white. After the first year, they decided not to admit new members. So all the girls in that cohort who wanted to join at the Brownie level (mostly black, except for Chuckles) joined Delora's troop.

When the current 2nd graders were in K, another Daisy troop was started. Again, it was almost entirely white at first. But unlike the other, they're open to new members.

So among the 2nd & 3rd graders at Chuckles' school, we now have FOUR DIFFERENT BROWNIE TROOPS. One is all 3rd graders and entirely white. Mine, which is the 3rd grade remnant of Delora's troop plus all the 3rd graders who joined this year, is entirely black except for Chuckles and one other white girl who just moved from Wisconsin. Then there's a racially integrated troop of 2nd graders. Then there's another troop of 2nd & 3rd graders who all live in family housing on campus, mostly the kids of international grad students and post-docs, so that's yet another kind of segregation.

In case you can't tell, I think that this system is NUTS.

Date: 2010-10-14 02:22 am (UTC)
loligo: Scully with blue glasses (Default)
From: [personal profile] loligo
For the record (in case you didn't look this up yourself): the national GS organization claims not to discriminate based on sexual orientation, but suggests that all leaders keep their personal lives to themselves. However, when individual service units have dismissed lesbian leaders, who then point to the national non-discrimination policy, the national org. has declined to get involved. So, on paper, better than the Boy Scouts, but in practice it totally depends on your local culture.

Date: 2010-10-13 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] riarambles
My humble suggestion is to stop by/call the local community health center or pediatricians' offices, talk about the program and the scholarshiops, and leave fliers. Talk to the interpreters or bilingual people on staff at the health center. In my experience, they are often the people who mention things like this to parents, and they are ipso facto known and trusted by the community. I (an interpreter) often mention programs or activities to parents, or I mention them to the doctor outside the room, so the doctor can talk about them.

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