May 9, 2011 On May 2, Families That Can hosted a celebratory luncheon honoring 55 parents who led grassroots organizing around Public School Choice (PSC), the Los Angeles Unified School District's initiative to create excellent new schools and turn around the lowest performing schools in Los Angeles. PSC allows non-district groups like charter schools to apply to run the schools, with the school board choosing the group it thinks will do the best job for students.
"This experience really showed the power of parents," said KW Tulloss, an organizer with Families That Can who is also a charter school parent. "When these parents spoke out, the school board really listened."
Seven different charter schools applied in the second round of PSC: Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Aspire Public Schools, Camino Nuevo, Granada Hills Charter High School, Green Dot, Partnerships to Uplift Communities and Synergy. Thanks to the hard work of the charters, the parents' efforts and the school board's bold support of reform, nearly 5,000 students will now have the opportunity to attend a high-quality charter school in their neighborhood next fall.
"These parents really made a difference for kids," said Fiorella Del Carpio, an organizer with Families That Can who worked with them throughout the process. "I was amazed everyday by their passion for education and their hard work. It was really inspiring."
Over seven months, parents from the charter schools applying for PSC schools reached out to other parents, telling them about how PSC works, their experiences as charter parents and what their charter school could offer. They encouraged parents to participate in the advisory vote, led a letter-writing campaign and spoke out at LAUSD board meetings. Many camped out on the sidewalk all night before the board meeting to make sure charter parents were there to support their schools when the school board made its decision.
The parents at the May 2 luncheon received certificates honoring them for their work. Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry provided the use of a community room for the luncheon. Many of the parents left the luncheon already asking what they could do next to support charter schools and to further advocate for Los Angeles students.
The third round of Public School Choice has already officially kicked off, with potential applicants submitting letters of intent for 39 schools projected to serve over 50,000 students at 17 new campuses and 22 "focus schools," which are under-performing existing schools. Thirteen charter schools have put in letters of intent. Families That Can will again be providing grassroots organizing support to the charter applicants.
FTC is the California Charter Schools Association's parent-organizing effort. The group's mission is to educate, empower and mobilize parents to hold our leaders accountable for ensuring every child has access to a high-quality public education. The FTC team works one-on-one with charter schools and their parents on issues directly affecting their schools. Find out more at www.familiesthatcan.org or by following on Facebook and Twitter.