LA parent voice: What I learned on my journey to become an education advocate
Esmeralda Fabián Romero | April 3, 2018
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Silvia Flores, a mother of two students at two LA Unified schools in South LA, wanted to learn more about how she can help her kids succeed in school.
So she signed up for the Alliance for a Better Community’s Parent Advocate Training Program, where she learned about building a parent network and working with school officials and community leaders.
“At those training sessions, I learned that my children have the right to quality education and how can I defend that for them,” said Flores, one of 40 parents in the pilot program, which launched last year at Edison Middle School in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood. “I will continue training myself to learn more about how to support my children to get to college, because I know being involved will make the difference.”
Now that she has completed the program, where she met once a week for seven weeks, she wants to continue going to monthly meetings so she can become an education advocate not only for her own children but for others throughout Los Angeles and to share her knowledge with other parents.
“Supporting the leadership development of parents through our Parent Advocate Training Program is crucial to real educational transformation,” said Nadia Diaz Funn, executive director of Alliance for a Better Community. “When parents are empowered to use their voices, experiences, and knowledge to support student success, everyone wins. We are proud of the leadership roles our first cohort have undertaken not only in their children’s schools but also in their communities since they graduated from the PAT program. We look forward to continuing to support their leadership efforts.”
LA School Report had a conversation with Flores in Spanish, and this is what she wants to share with other parents about the Parent Advocate Training Program.
What motivated you to be part of this program?
My children are now going to schools that have been improving, but it wasn’t always that way. There are many low-performing schools in my community. I think as parents we need to bring solutions to our schools, so when I heard about the program I thought it was perfect for parents like me that didn’t know much about policies and standards, so I can demand better for my kids in school. I committed to the seven-week program last year, and I still continue to meet once a month with other parents to learn more about how we can work together with school administrators. My goal now is to have a plan for my children to apply for college loans when it’s time for them to go to college.
What have you learned that you had no idea about before the program?
Before the program I didn’t even know what reclassification meant. I didn’t know about the state standards that evaluate if my kids are successful in school or not. I even learned about federal standards and federal funds we have in our schools. I also learned about special education and the rights they have for accommodations and support.
Why do you want to be an education advocate?
I want to continue learning how to encourage my children to work hard and meet their academic standards. I also want to have a strong relationship with the school’s administration so we can support them on improving the academic performance for all students. I think a difference can be made if we have an open communication with teachers and administration. They need to hear from us what our needs as a community are. And as parents we need to learn how to find quality schools, how we can compare them and support them.
One of my children wants to become a scientist. I want to support him not only to graduate from high school, but to graduate from college and have a career he’d like. That’s why my goal now is to learn more about FAFSA applications and college loans. And, I want to share what I’ve learned with other Latino parents like me that need that knowledge as much as I needed it. We need to give importance to our children’s education and do everything we can to support them. These workshops have helped me to develop skills to be able to do so. I hope other parents feel encouraged to do the same.
The Parent Advocate Training Program is free, but space is limited. For more information, please contact Carla Lopez-Valdes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (213) 201-1120.