What is the Network for Public Education? The evolution of a perspective
By Monica Green
When I learned the national conference of the Network for Public Education would be in Oakland and PLAN’s Leaders for Engaged and Active Parents (LEAP) program would present, I knew that I needed to investigate. My limited view associated the organization with those more interested in saving positions, rather than improving the quality of public education. Initial investigation informed me that the organization’s mission is “to preserve, promote, improve and strengthen public schools for both current and future generations of students.” Alright, I see that the mission and positive agenda is aligned with PLAN’s.
Saturday morning 8 am opening general session a ballroom full of people and only a handful of people of color. Limited inclusion, not a good sign. Stopping me in my tracks was a 30 – 40-foot long canvas posted on a wall the breadth of the room with the heading: The History of Institutional Racism in Public Education. Really? Close examination drew a, “WOW how powerful!” The quiet informative, artistic, presentation included an accurate depiction of some racism that I have witnessed. Now I’m truly eager and ready to learn from this conference.
Over the next two days, the keynote addresses and workshops continued to expand my understanding of the impact of privatization on public education and how its reinforcement of institutional racism poses a threat to our democracy as great as Khrushchev’s prediction that we will destroy you not by war but from the inside by the greed of capitalism.
Over the next few months, I will share multiple strategies that I learned at the conference that supports the Network for Public Education’s mission, and PLAN’s mission to build the power of parents to transform schools.
The strategies focus on three themes: “Inside and outside working together,” “Power of parent and student’s voice,” and “Know your history.” One example in each theme follows.
Inside and outside working together was that Diane Ravitch co-founder of Network for Public Education Twitter followers went from 144,000 to 31 million followers after the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. The appointment of a privatization insider leads unexpectedly to the amplification of the outside “resist” voice.
“Power of parent and student voice,” making a change includes the Chicago chapter of parent organization Journey for Justice’s campaign where 11 people on a 34-day hunger strike prevented the closure of a school and provoked a $14 million dollar investment to upgrade the school.
Is there a historic school in Oakland worthy of an investment rather than a closure?
Yohuru Williams, a historian, and keynoter, referred to a speech to the annual conference of the American Psychological Association delivered fifty years ago by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in 1967. “We must never adjust ourselves to economic conditions that take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.” Williams insisted that King called for, “creative maladjustment,” wherein people refuse to normalize inequality and work continuously to expose injustice so that, “we may be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man, into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.
In addition to new resources from throughout the country, inspiring was the passion and presence of PLAN Board and staff as well as our allies like the Californians for Justice representing strong student voices.
More to come about this exciting learning experience including publications and electronic sites that further the fight for public education.
#NationalParentalInvolvementDay – November 16, 2017
By Demetria Huntsman
November is an exciting month, a celebration of fall and gratitude. November also highlights National Parent Involvement Day! This is an annual opportunity for schools and families to honor and highlight the powerful contributions of parents and caregivers to support student performance. It is always important to recognize and celebrate the partnership between schools and families year-round and this day is a great way to invite our communities to lift some of the remarkable things happening across our campuses. PLAN is committed to celebrating school and family partnerships, and we recognize this partnership is the ideal foundation for supporting students to thrive.
Here are some ways you can celebrate!
- Give a warm card to dedicated parents and/or caregivers
- Take a photo and post on social media with the hashtag #NationalParentInvolvementDay, #Engaged, #FamiliesLead
- Sign a pledge to support family engagement on your campus
- See http://www.projectappleseed.org/ for more information and other ideas!
PLAN’s Organizing Committee
Monday, November 6th | 5:30pm- 8pm
Help us prepare for Nov 8th OUSD Board of Education meeting. Bay Area PLAN is part of the Justice for Oakland Students Coalition (J4OS). Please help us by signing our latest petition to prevent hurtful cuts directly affecting OUSD students. Click here for more information!
PLAN Power Lunch Webinar
Funding in Statewide Equity Systems: What is Local Control Funding Formula?
Topic: PLAN Power Lunch Webinar – Funding in Statewide Equity Systems
The Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, gives school districts the autonomy to decide which programs and services to spend state funding on. Find out more details of how LCFF works within California.
Register in advance for this webinar: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uv_0JwCFQWu0-fSTuTN2Cg After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Meet Our New Organizing Fellows!
By Minx Manuel
Che Phinnesse came to PLAN after graduating from culinary school. She recalls attending Cafe with the Principal and being asked to fill out a survey about issues “that were [obviously] not happening” in her child’s grade level. She challenged herself to dig deeper with these discrepancies and attended a Leadership Council meeting with a friend at PLAN.
Self-described as someone who, “like[s] to do and work”, Che has been to almost every event that PLAN has had to offer: Parents Ready for School, Training for Trainers, March Madness, and LCAP convenings. Some of her more memorable moments have been attending OUSD School Board, facilitating PLAN Membership Meetings, and traveling to Sacramento to attend a press conference for LCFF with the Department of Education.
Che describes her leadership with PLAN evolving because she was pushed to be in the forefront by her good friend and former PLAN employee, Enrique. Since joining, she has spoken at OUSD School Board meetings, met with the State Board of Education, and spoken at LCAP meetings. At one point, Che was even the ambassador for OUSD during the Raising the Bar Campaign. Currently, she is the President of one of her daughter’s School Site Council.
Parent Organizing is important to Che because she wants to “get info out to parents.” She feels strongly about the misconception that “black and brown parents don’t care about their children because they can’t take off [of work]”. She wants to “be the voice to tell [the education system] that they do care and to make the language accessible” because parents “do have rights”.
One hope and wish Che has is that “no matter their social status or language of the parent or child, [students] can all be educated the same… [and] all deserve equal investment.”
Che continues to be a powerhouse of knowledge in the PLAN community regularly participating in Organizing Committee meetings as a new Parent Fellow. She utilizes her acumen of district and statewide matters to enlighten others. She networks with family and friends to build her “Parent Empire” which encourages them to constructively exercise their capacity as parents.
Sandra Wilson, an active parent and grandparent in OUSD, was introduced to PLAN during a School Site Council Meeting at Elmhurst Elementary School.
She has partnered her learning with PLAN by attending School Site Council, LCAP, and budget trainings. As an active PLAN member, she has attended many membership meetings, as well as Organizing Committee meetings. She has also traveled to Sacramento to attend the press conference for LCFF with the Department of Education.
Sandra has grown with PLAN as a result of becoming more knowledgeable about school budgeting, school site council and the LCAP. She describes herself as a “spokesperson for parent and student issues”.
Parent organizing is important to Sandra because “we need to let our voices be heard because our children[‘s] are not… because of them being children. We need to speak up on their behalf.”
One wish Sandra has for students and their families is equity. She doesn’t believe that “one school should offer more things than another school. [Students] need an equal field when it comes to learning”. She expresses her urgency for “the board of education to take [their job] personal like it’s [for] their kids” and challenges them question whether their decisions are doing the “best to support each kid”.
Sandra’s work as an Organizing Fellow has been invaluable to PLAN. She has done outreach to dozens of schools in the district to analyze OUSD’s implementation of new standards of family engagement. Sandra’s input about experiences in the district are pertinent as she remains active among many sites.
Reach Academy Starts Their Parent Action Team Meetings
By Sasha Shane
PLAN works closely with school-sites like REACH Academy, to support and increase participation of parent volunteers via the Parent Action Team (PAT). The PAT engages parents, students and teachers in school-site family engagement activities.
The PAT met twice in October to discuss events that parents will host at the school. This year the PAT is planning their first “Cultural Fair.” Following the success of the three “Cultural Celebrations” planned and facilitated by parents last year. This year the PAT decided to expand their activities across the whole campus so the whole school could participate. Parent volunteers are planning to do activities that represent their culture, share their traditional foods, music, and dances.
In addition to these planned activities, parents are outreaching to get more parents involved by asking parents to volunteer or contribute to the event in whatever ways they can so that we continue to build the parent involvement in REACH Academy community. The Cultural Celebration is scheduled to take place on will be April 25th, 2018.