Parent Unions

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 10:12am

Parent Unions are helping some parents demand more from their school systems.

Parents are a child’s first teacher, but more and more, their involvement in their child’s education does not end when they drop them off at school.

Across the country, there’s a growing trend of parents becoming advocates.

"Parents across Los Angeles, across California and now across America are doing just that. They're taking back power over education of their own children," said Executive Director of Parent Revolution, Ben Austin.

Parent Revolution is a Los Angeles based organization that helps parents form their own unions.

Parent Revolution organized parents in Compton.

They were the first to use California’s Parent Trigger Law to try to convert a low performing school into a charter.

"Two years ago this started as a grassroots movement of parents looking around and saying to themselves if we're going to give ourselves the education they deserve, there is nobody coming to our rescue, it's got to be us," said Austin.

The Compton School Board challenged the parents’ petition and the case is still tied up in court but it became national news and the concept of Parent Unions is spreading.

At NBC’S Education Nation Summit in New York, Austin joined panelists from across the country to talk about the movement.

Austin admits mistakes were made in Compton and says they are now doing some things differently.

"We're helping parents to form parent union chapters, these are independent, with real elected leadership, they file papers with secretary of state and they commit to advocating for education reform of their own children," explained Austin.

Parent Revolution is founded by several private foundations, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"First they need to sit down and talk with administrators of the school, these are the scores our students are getting, these are the number of students that go on and are having to be remediated when they go to college, but if that doesn't work, it does mean coming in and saying we've done as much as we can do, we've got to make a change here," said Melinda Gates.

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