FOR US. WITH US. BY US.
Most education spaces will not deny that parents are important members of the community. Yet, parent involvement and voice is generally limited to joining parent teacher organizations, chaperoning field trips, volunteering at events, and sitting on parental advisory committees that don't necessarily yield influence. As a society, that’s where we are comfortable seeing parents--supporting, volunteering, and continuing to elevate a school’s vision. But what happens when parents start to push on things outside of that? Are parent voices still viewed as important when they start to question the quality of teaching and learning, the lack of representation of teachers of color, the opportunity gap that exists between black and brown children and their white counterparts, or the fact that Latino students rank dead last in the nation?
In Rhode Island, the voices of students in education are elevated through organizations like Youth in Action, Young Voices, ARISE, Providence Student Union, among others. Their individual and collective advocacy have led to important feats in education for kids and the work must be elevated, celebrated, and funded.
Parents, too, are critical stakeholders invested in improving successful educational outcomes for our children. We must have decision making power, and opportunities to be equal partners in the educational process. If we are serious about improving educational outcomes for our children, parents must have a real seat at the table--one that not only solicits our thoughts, but one where our ideas for change shape the direction of policy and funding priorities that best support the future of our children.