Rocketship Nashville Northeast Parents Lead Successful “5th Grade for ALL” Campaign
The night of the Metro Nashville Public Schools board meeting was filled with emotions and feelings of anxiousness. There were over 50 people scheduled to provide public comments, and our Rocketship parents. The board room was filled to capacity and we had to continuously bring in more chairs to accommodate the growing number of people. Rocketship parents had spent hours reflecting on and planning for this evening. We had four strong parent leaders and even one brave Rocketeer who prepared and rehearsed their testimonials to present to board members. On nights like this, we are reminded of the important impact family engagement has on student success.
At Rocketship Public Schools, Parent Power is at the heart of everything we do. When our families see something in their community that they want changed, we encourage them to take it upon themselves to organize and take action. Specifically, our community showcases Parent Power through Parent Leadership, which is Rocketship’s unique way to cultivate, train, and mobilize a diverse group of parents and families who demand and drive the enduring change their community needs to improve educational equity and excellence. This is done through things like organizing public actions with local elected officials, participating in school board meetings, and partnering with other local coalitions who are also pushing for change.
Recently, the Parent Organizing Committee in our Nashville region spearheaded an effort to expand local charter schools to include fifth grade. Without this all families at elementary charter schools in the area would be forced to go to a new school for only fifth grade, then go to a separate middle school the year after. A powerful group of parents assembled to publicly share their unique stories about their families’ academic journeys. Additionally, they formed a coalition with two other Nashville charter elementary schools to engage with school board members so they better understand the perspective of charter elementary parents.
The overall goal of the 5th Grade for ALL campaign was to amend Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary’s current charter to allow for the addition of 5th grade. This would help ensure that our families continue to have access to the same educational options as all families in Nashville.
Leading up to the board meeting, our parent leaders participated in six Parent Organizing Committee meetings where they were trained and challenged to activate and unleash their parent power. As a result of intentional collaboration and preparation, our parent leaders held four successful research meetings with school board members which helped them gain the support they needed to achieve a ‘Yes’ vote. Parent leaders felt a strong sense of inequity that the school district was making important decisions and not considering the voices of parents that choose to enroll their children in public charter schools.
After 50 parents including one third grade Rocketeer shared their story, the vote was approved and Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary RNNE now offers 5th grade to families in North Nashville.
A big thank you to Ms. Graciela Rodriguez, Ms. Kaitlyn Hoch, Ms. Topeka Acosta, and Ms. Kiana Page who presented their testimonials that night. And a very special shout out to our brave student that spoke at a school board meeting completely filled with adults, Mr. Zaronté Acosta. He definitely exemplified the characteristics of a true Rocketeer. Find his testimonial below, along with Ms. Graciela Rodriguez’s.
Published on February 28, 2022