Just as parents are their children’s first teachers, they are also their first and most enduring advocates. Leaders across the Network are exploring ways to amplify parent voice, and maybe most importantly, help parents tap into their own power.
In Missouri, the Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM) launched a four-part training series for parent leaders. Sessions earlier this spring focused on how to effectively use social media for advocacy, digging in on ways to separate personal and professional posts, creating dynamic images to convey a point, and using Twitter to mobilize advocates. As one participating parent said:
“You are either going to be part of the solution or you will ultimately be a part of the reason why your community fails.”
Next up in the CEAM training series is public speaking and how to talk with reporters.
A parent leader, Enrique Esparza, joined Innovate Public Schools CEO Matt Hammer on a panel at the NewSchools Venture Fund Summit earlier this spring. Esparza shared his realization that his kindergarten daughter didn’t have high-quality options for K-12 and his efforts to bring two new public schools to his community. As Hammer told the crowd:
“This is about parent power, not just parent voice.”
And in late April, PennCAN relied on parents to bring the power of school choice to life, inviting them to tell their personal story of selecting a school for their child. While PennCAN has hosted similar events for policymakers about charter schools, parent panelists helped drive a different type of conversation. Instead of only focusing on metrics about why schools are effective (extended school days, intensive teacher training and more), parents highlighted what they felt at their child’s school. As CEAM’s deputy director Rachel Amankulor said in a blog post, “I understand that love is not enough to produce great academic outcomes…But we cannot lose sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, when a parent walks into a school, they all ask the same question: “Can I feel the love?”
Advocates across the country are developing, implementing, and executing similar opportunities for parents, many of which can be replicated or enhanced. If you are working on similar parent trainings or would like to connect with CEAM, PennCAN or Innvotate Public Schools, please reach out.