In Partnership with 74

It’s graduation time — for parents. Garcetti, board member Garcia to join hundreds at weekend ceremony

LA School Report | April 29, 2016

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Parents graduates of The Partnership's Parent College last year in Boyle Heights. (Credit: The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools)

Parent College graduates at last year’s ceremony in Boyle Heights. (Credit: The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools)

April is graduation month, at least for parents in LA, and tomorrow more than 400 parents will be honored in their own graduation ceremony with a keynote address by Mayor Eric Garcetti and welcome from LA Unified board member Monica Garcia.

Saturday morning’s event at Roosevelt High School is the last of three graduations taking place this month across the city held by Parent College, a seven-month empowerment and advocacy workshop series open to all LA-area parents.

The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools launched Parent College seven years ago to empower and engage parents with knowledge of their rights, roles and responsibilities in their children’s education. The program has been key in getting parents more involved at the Partnership schools, which has led to a shift in culture at the school sites, particularly in accelerating college-going rates. Participation has grown more than 10 times to reach 7,000 families, and 80 percent of the parents say they feel more confident in supporting their child’s education, while 94 percent of principals report that parent involvement has positively impacted their school’s culture, according to the Partnership.

“We always wanted our sons to go to college, but the application process was complicated and we weren’t sure if we’d qualify for financial aid. But Parent College opened our eyes to all the opportunities available to our kids,” said Maria Ruiz, parent of a junior at Roosevelt High and a seventh-grader at Hollenbeck Middle School Magnet. “Our first son is now a sophomore at UC Riverside and we’re now more prepared to help our other two sons when it’s their turn to go to college. Through the training we received, my husband and I have become leaders at our school and in the community. The Partnership schools not only welcome our involvement, they encourage it, and I really believe that’s why so many kids who would never have even graduated high school are now considering which college to attend.”

Parent College participants visit Cal State LA on University Day last year. (Credit: The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools)

Parent College participants at Cal State LA on their University Day visit last year. (Credit: The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools)

More than 2,000 Partnership parents participate in Parent College annually. Parents have to attend at least four of the seven Saturday workshops offered at the schools each school year in order to be eligible to receive a graduation certificate.

Saturday’s Parent College graduates all have enrolled students at one of six Boyle Heights campuses managed by the Partnership schools: Sunrise Elementary School, Stevenson Middle School, Hollenbeck Middle School, Mendez High School, Roosevelt High School and Math, Science, Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School.

The program’s impact has also reached beyond Partnership schools, with adoption of the training model for other charter networks like PUC Schools as well as LA Unified schools, Greenfield Union School District in Bakersfield and three LA’s Promise schools.

The Partnership trained select LA Unified teachers as the district introduced Parent College this year to families at Miguel Contreras Learning Center and its feeder schools. LA Unified is working to introduce Parent College to other schools throughout the district beginning in the fall.

The Partnership is one of the largest public school turnaround initiatives in the nation, overseeing 17 LA Unified schools and 14,000 students.

“A core belief of ours at the Partnership is that real school transformation can only occur when there is a strong, authentic partnership with parents,” said Joan Sullivan, the Partnership’s CEO. “In the seven years since we began overseeing some of LAUSD¹s highest need schools, we’ve seen a culture shift on our campuses and our network graduation rate jumped from 36 percent to 77 percent. Empowering our parents has been such a critical part of our schools’ academic growth, and we’re glad to see others in the broader school system adopting this model.”

The graduation ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, with workshops beginning at 10. Roosevelt High School is located at 456 S. Mathews St., Los Angeles,  90033.

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