School Choice: As Parents, We Want More

Peter Cunningham of Education Post recently penned the article, “Education Reform in 2018 Is Going to Need a Parent Seal of Approval.” Reading the article was therapeutic.  He pointed out many of the sentiments I have pondered concerning parent engagement. He offered ideas for us as parent advocates to pursue in the near and distant future to make the home and school partnership work better for our children’s future.

I’m a parent advocate who wants the best for my children as well as yours. I strive to make my voice heard because the pressing issues parents deal with need to be brought into a brighter light. In that vain, I have some thoughts to add to the notion of parents giving their approval to education reform on a wider scale.

Three years ago, in early 2015 when other parents and I at Andrew H. Wilson found ourselves fighting and demanding for our educational rights and our children’s future, we immersed ourselves in learning as much as we could about what we could do as parents. We met, called, emailed, and texted each other to stay connected.  We also had meetings with charter school officials and with officials of the RSD (Recovery School District) and went on school tours. Once we successfully obtained the spots we wanted on the RSD selection committee, the time we had to give ramped up.

It was Superbowl Sunday when we finalized our review of the rubrics from charter schools vying to run our children’s school. Subsequently, there were interviews with reporters, meetings with national ed reform proponents, correspondence with other parents, trips to network with parents nationally who had like experiences and many more actions far too many for me to list.

All of these actions and occurrences were definitely worth it and they have proven to work out in for our children and community.  The ends definitely justified the means. Above all, the most important act we accomplished during our campaign was to choose a charter school operator who partnered with us in educating our children.  We effectively lobbied InspireNola schools to grant one of our parents, Dana Wade, a seat on their Board of Directors. We felt it was imperative to be a part of the decision making process with the educators, administrators and individuals who are making key decisions that govern our children’s education. In fact, we wanted to have a voice, vote, and a hand in governing their education.

I sincerely appreciate the voice and support that Citizen Education  provides for parents. I also believe having panels where parents have a safe, supportive and inviting spaces to tell their stories is truly needed.  I contend, in 2018, to get parent approval that isn’t enough anymore.

Well what is enough? To gain more parent approval and participation, I believe entities like Citizen Education should ramp it up a notch and take it to the next level. As partners, we should push for more parent organizations, more parents on Charter Management Operator’s boards and increase support of parents vying for school board seats. Going forward we have to demand not only positions to be seen and heard but positions to positively affect education policy and outcomes. Parents must be in seats and the positions that establish the foundation of education in their community. With this heightened level of networking and with the addition of more action based and decision making roles I don’t see any reason why parents wouldn’t say, “Approval Granted”, as we move onward to a brighter future for our kids.


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