November 25, 2011 Earlier this month, parents from across the state gathered in Los Angeles for Camp Educate, a three-day training retreat led by Educate Our State (EOS), a parent-lead group which advocates for high-quality public education in California. Several dozen charter parents attended the event, which included workshops on grassroots organizing and featured speakers like Delaine Eastin, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Assemblywoman Betsy Butler. Ainye Long, a Director, Parent and Community Engagement with Families That Can, shares her impressions of the event and why she's excited about partnering with Educate Our State.
I was impressed with the entire production of the event-but what impressed me most was the sincere passion and love that all the parent attendees displayed when sharing their commitment to change public education for every child in California.
Most importantly, Educate Our State shared tangible goals with campers, and provided the tools needed to collectively continue the conversations and efforts statewide. It was powerful for charter school parents to participate in Camp Educate alongside their counterparts in traditional schools. Charter schools are public schools and there is so much we can learn from each other, as well as issues where we can advocate together, such as for more equitable funding for our public schools.
Families that Can's collaboration with Educate our State started earlier this year with a conversation between FTC's Executive Director, Corri Ravare, EOS Co-Founder Crystal Brown, and me. Our organizations have similar origins. FTC started in 2007 when a group of parents rallied together to opposed a proposed $18 million cut in charter school facilities funding. Brown told us that their organization was started by eight California moms who were frustrated with cuts to public education and who have since rallied thousands of other parents to get involved. We have continued to stay in contact about ways we can work together, including participating in Camp Educate.
Charter school parents are pioneers in public education reform - they have made their voices heard and made an impact just by putting their children's needs first and looking for other options when they were dissatisfied with the traditional schools in their community. Too often, people in power have tried to pit families at traditional schools against those at charter schools. We are all public school parents and we share a commitment that is the foundation of this work - We put STUDENTS first.
Families That Can and Educate Our State both agree that there needs to be more equitable funding for all California public schools, and every child in California should have access to a high-quality K-12 public school in their neighborhood. With California being the 8th largest economy in the world, why would our children's educations not reflect this? Being forty-eighth in US spending per pupil is beyond unacceptable. I'm looking forward to future events, town halls, and collaborations with Educate Our State.
Sign up today for Families That Can, the voice of California's charter school parents, by visiting www.familiesthatcan.org. It's free!
Learn more about Educate Our State at www.educateourstate.org.