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Rocketship Parent Voices Lead the Movement for Education Equity

Our National Parent Leadership team consists of Education Organizers that work with families in each of our regions, supporting them in learning community organizing skills, developing a critical consciousness around education equity and policy, and using their voices to navigate and influence policy-makers, community leaders, and political representatives in their communities.

Rocketship parent organizers are the voice for education equity in their communities and their voices are being heard through what we call research meetings. Parent organizers regularly invite influential decision-makers to the table to hear our parents’ stories, present them with data representing the issues they care about, and ask them questions about their positions, platforms, and self-interests.

When we talk about parent power, a lot of people think about large parent actions like last year’s San Jose Mayoral Forum in California. But what many don’t realize is that parents are meeting with public officials all year long in preparation for these large actions, but also to build new relationships and maintain old ones. Last year, parent organizers across all five regions held 70 research meetings with public officials. Each one of them was an opportunity for parents to inform their representatives about education equity issues in their communities, and how they have affected their families.

Already this school year, parents in Milwaukee, Texas, Nashville, and California have met with 20 current representatives and candidates for political office – several of these research meetings had over 50 parents and family members in attendance. These convenings are facilitated entirely by parent leaders who chair the meeting, prepare and deliver testimonies or testimonios, develop strategic questions and present, often staggering, statistics about the state of education in their neighborhoods and cities.

As we move out of pandemic restrictions, our parent leaders have been able to start meeting with their representatives face-to-face again. For example, in December, California parent organizers held their first post-pandemic, in-person research meeting with Franklin-McKinley Board President, Rudy Rodriguez. Families filled the learning lab at Rocketship Mosaic. Parents asked strategic questions to learn more about his priorities on the board and how he is thinking about renewal after our students endured a pandemic, allowing them to build a deeper relationship with Trustee Rodriguez.

These meetings are an impactful element of the education organizing model that enable families to build relationships with and learn about their school board and city council representatives or even their mayor or police chief, as well as any candidates who are running for these seats. Parents lead in these spaces to ensure that their whole school community can make informed ballot decisions and these meetings often lead to collaboration and continued participation in Rocketship’s parent advocacy efforts down the road.

In Milwaukee, parent leaders have already met with six elected officials and candidates, from mayoral candidates to state senators to their local city council representatives. Many more meetings are planned before the end of the school year to hold officials accountable and to make Rocketship parent interests a priority.

As a result of these consistent touchpoints with Rocketship parent leaders, these representatives learn to respect the power of our families and are held accountable by them to deliver on the commitments they make when in office. They learn what is important to the charter family constituency that they are elected to represent and are encouraged to use their influence to defend the values of that constituency, especially when it comes to their right to make choices for their families.

As Rocketship staff, we can toot the horn for our schools all day long, but it will never have the impact that a parent’s lived experience will have on the movement for education equity. That is why we know that parents’ voices need to lead this work and the more opportunities they have to share their stories in these decision-making spaces, the more impact their voices will have.

Interested in learning more about parent leadership and organizing at Rocketship? Want to join a research meeting with parent organizers in your region? Contact the Parent Leadership & Organizing Lead for your school!

Published on February 24, 2023

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