Introducing Speak UP!

My work over the last decade with GoMamaGuide has been mainly to educate and assist parents in navigating the array of public school choices in Los Angeles. But choosing a school is only the first step. I’ve also encouraged you to stay active and involved no matter what kind of school you end up in, to speak up if something doesn’t feel right, and to work together to come up with solutions.

Speak Up logoBuilding on those ideals, I am excited to announce a new collaboration with Speak UP, a grassroots movement of parents and families who want a more powerful voice in shaping education policy in California.

Despite having the greatest numbers AND the greatest vested interest in our kids’ education, parents in California have historically NOT had a meaningful role in education policy decisions and have NOT engaged in the electoral process – even when the results have a direct impact on our children.

*In 2013 barely 1 in 5 registered voters cast ballots in the school board election, and fewer than 4 out of 10 voters were under age 55.

Parents, we’ve basically been ABSENT from the vote. We intend to change that!

We believe parents can be a powerful force for change if we unite and use our collective voice in our schools, communities and at the ballot box. We invite all parents from all types of schools. Our only “special interest” is our collective children.

If you believe that parent voices matter, please become a Speak UP member
(it’s FREE to join) and take our survey so you can help drive our agenda. We’re also looking for parent leaders and ambassadors to work closely with us in your communities.

Let’s spread this movement. Join us today!
http://www.speakupparents.org

Facebook page: /SpeakUpUnitedParents
Twitter: @SpeakUpParents

And no, I’m not abandoning you, I’ll still be offering all things GoMamaGuide. 😉

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Watch the District #4 School Board Candidate Forum Video

Great turnout at last Thursday’s LAUSD District #4 School Board Candidate Forum in Venice hosted by The United Way, featuring candidates Steve Zimmer and Kate Anderson. Missed it? No worries. Watch the video here.

Nearly 200 People Turn Out for United Way’s LAUSD School Board Forum in Venice

PS Smart Tip: Get Informed and Participate

ItsYourSchlDon’t be one of those 90-some % of the population who don’t take the time to find out who their school board leaders are, then complain when they vote to cut your school’s budget, beloved teachers, or music and art programs. Or co-locate your school. Or relocate your school. Or close you down. Or convert your school to another kind of school altogether, without your input.

We sometimes tend to think THEY did this to US, not realizing that WE-the-people put THEM in the seat of power to begin with. And there are WAY more parents of school-aged children than unions or special interests in this town. It’s just that the majority of school parents have typically been mute when it comes to local voter turnout.
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These are OUR schools, and our local school board reps are OUR elected officials. Don’t let someone else decide it. Know who you’re putting in the driver’s seat of your child’s school experience. Ask questions. Participate. Learn. Vote.
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Did you know that school board reps have discretionary funds for school improvements, upgrades or pet projects? Did you also know that as an ally, your school board rep can look out for your school in a myriad of ways? Take the time to get to know the candidates and make the smart choice for your child’s education. Regardless who you vote for, the main thing is to actually vote.

PS Smart Tip: Be Your Own Best Advocate

This is from a dad I met at a recent talk:

“I went to the prospective parent meeting last month at our elementary school and the misinformation and confusion (about enrollment info) was unsettling to say the least. I’m quickly learning that, as in healthcare, if you are not your own advocate, you (and your kids) are completely screwed.”

I personally refuse to take a fatalistic approach about it all, although yes, I also have plenty of dark thoughts towards the LAUSD machine. However, I personally feel empowered to gather information, speak out, and stay on top of things. We tend to forget that these are OUR schools, OUR kids, OUR tax money. When parents make noise, and are aware of what’s going on, they can’t be so misguided or pushed around. It’s when we stay blind, deaf, immobilized with fear and passivity, that’s when we are controlled and pushed around, thus, as you put it, screwed.

Believe me, with our kids’ education at stake, this IS personal and WE ARE the best advocates they have. Count on it!

Stay strong and carry on! Be vigilant and it will all work out.

I find that a cocktail here or there tends to help.

PS Smart Tip: Being Pro-Active

No school is perfect, and no school can provide all things to all people. But many times we as parents are the first to see or hear things, either directly on campus or through our children, that could use a tweak, a solution, or an all-out revamping. Now is not the time to sit idly by and expect someone else to solve it.
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Ask questions, talk to others, take a quick meeting with your teacher to find out their perspective and discuss possible solutions, and if you don’t get resolution, talk to the principal. Perhaps you’ve got ideas and some strategic planning or creative problem-solving will fix the issue. Sometimes just letting others know there is a problem that needs addressing is enough to get something adjusted or changed. Sometimes we can solve things in-house, and sometimes we have to take it all the way to our School Board Rep or Superintendent or even the press.
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We tend to forget that these are our schools, our children, our tax dollars. Although others might be “in charge,” when all stakeholders work together collectively and collaboratively, that’s where real community can be built and positive change can take place.

PS Smart Tip: Don’t Keep It To Yourself!

This one’s for kids: if you find you either need extra help or extra work in class, ask for it. It does no good to suffer in silence if the work’s either going over your head or you’re downright bored in class. People can’t read your mind. Find the courage to speak up – either to your teacher or ask your parents to talk to the teacher – and you will get the help or extra work you need.

This goes for all kinds of issues, problems or sticky situations. Don’t keep it all inside and get frustrated. Reach out and talk to someone about it…a teacher, a TA, your parents, your friend’s mom, your favorite coach, and together you can come up with some next steps and possible solutions. Today’s tip is all about being pro-active to get the support you need.