John H. Holloway says
Many studies have shown that family characteristics can significantly affect children's development and school achievement. Beyond the immediate family, however, how much does the larger community influence a young person's school success? This question has implications for education policy: If community characteristics are strongly associated with student achievement, then efforts to improve student performance must focus on the community as a whole, not just on the school.
John H. Holloway is a consultant for the Licensure Development Group, Teaching and Learning Division, Educational Testing Service, Rosedale Rd., Princeton, NJ 08541 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
All children and youth have a human right to quality public education in safe and supportive environments, providing a foundation for access to higher education, meaningful employment and full participation in society. Yet current educational policies and practices are pushing millions of young people out of school. This “pushout” crisis is fueled by many factors, including zero-tolerance and other punitive discipline policies, one-size-fits-all educational models, a lack of adequate resources and support for teachers, and a lack of meaningful participation of students, parents and the larger community. Students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, LGBTQ communities and other marginalized communities are impacted the most by these barriers to education, resulting in millions of children and young people being pushed out of school and into poverty, unemployment and often prison. If we are to end this pushout crisis and improve educational outcomes for all our young people, educators, policy-makers, students, parents and communities must work together towards a new bold vision for education.
PPU’s community organizing is a process where we as a people who have had the same experiences of "marginalization " with our families or ourselves. We sometimes live in proximity to each other. We came together into an organization that acts in a shared self-interest. Unlike those who promote more consensual community building, PPU organizing generally assumes that social change will inherently involve a “paradigm shift” in order to generate collective power for the powerless. The disparities didn't happen over night. Our educational oppression has been a timeless message that tells of the struggle of our marginalized families and how every day for generations we push our children to rise above the education system's low expectations. PPU's core goal of community organizing is to generate durable power for Portland Parent Union in representing the community, allowing us to influence key decision-makers on a range of issues over time. In the ideal, this can get community organizing groups a place at the table before important decisions are made. Portland Parent Union works with, loves up, supports, educates and helps to encourage partnerships, parent leaders, as well as facilitates and participates in coalitions and assists in or creates the development of campaigns to be inclusive of all stakeholders. We have a desire to influence all tables that claim they are working in our behalf.
Portland Parent Union is representing the needs of the Families most impacted by “Pushout” from educational institutions. We have been intentional about being inclusive of all stakeholders in the conversation. As you know it is important to hear all voices especially the parents and students. We must equip the families/communities with the tools to advocate for their students who are being marginalized in the educational system.
The program Portland Parent Union wants to offer to our communities, families and students a “Know Your Rights Clinic” where families, students and communities can come and have restorative circle conversations of their families’ experiences in the education system. The circles will be facilitated by PPU as well as an attorney and invited guests from other partnerships who have an interest in human rights, civil rights, social justice as well as restorative practices. Civil rights officers from the state and federal divisions and attorneys from Disability Rights Oregon, and Parents/peers who know their rights. This clinic will be once a month for two or three hours.
Subject matter: Folks can get legal advice, as well as legal support. We will offer “know your rights” information: Best ways to advocate for your child, Complaints/Civil Rights, Special Education rights, School Police Profiling/Police Profiling, School Referrals, Testing, Child with Disabilities Rights, Suspensions/Expulsions, Juvenile Justice System, Restorative Justice, Bullying, Civil Rights, Human Rights, Child Find Laws, Zero Tolerance Laws, and more .
Families and communities will walk away with a handbook that provides all the tools they need to help them advocate effectively for their students, a list of resources for support, and sense of community. All will have access to legal advice and civil and human rights advice. All will have access to professionals and volunteer mentors who will show up for them in that serious meeting.