Author: Gwen Samuel


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Voices of the Dropout Nation: Gwen Samuel on Parents Pushing Back Against the Status Quo


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The two decades-long emergence of the school choice movement, along with the data provided thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act’s Adequate Yearly Progress provisions, has helped foster a…

The two decades-long emergence of the school choice movement, along with the data provided thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act’s Adequate Yearly Progress provisions, has helped foster a Parent Power movement that is demanding school districts and state government to end Zip Code Education policies that have condemned far too many children — including those from poor and minority backgrounds — to poverty and prison. And this year, with Parents Unions coming to being in states such as Illinois, along with other Parent Power and school reform groups taking more aggressive political action, expect more battles with education traditionalists over the future of American public education.

On this Voices of the Dropout Nation, new Contributing Editor Gwen Samuel issues a call to action to families to take their rightful lead role in education decisionmaking. Read, consider, and take action. 

This is the year of the “Push Back” Parent, the time to push back  against and change the laws that deny our children access to equitable high quality educational opportunities! This includes school residency laws and zip code education education policies.

Horace Mann once wrote that education is the “great equalizer of the conditions of men” and “the balance-wheel of the social machinery”. But today, our kids are educationally in trouble. All across the country, the fact is, too many students are dropping out. Those who do graduate are not leaving high school and college with the skill sets that they need to become productive citizens, engaged community leaders, and participants in a trained and qualified workforce. Needless to say, this has serious impacts on our state’s economy. That means their future is in jeopardy thus continuing to put our state & country’s economy in “crisis” And we, as parents, can no longer stand it.

Our kids don’t vote nor do they make the educational decisions that impact their lives. But we, the parents do. And it is time to push for our kids and against laws and policies that will deny them quality education.

This “push back” starts with parents and community registering to vote, making sure we hold each other accountable to get to the voting polls in November. There are no more excuses for not voting because you cannot claim that you do not care about what happens to you, your children, your family, and the most-vulnerable.

As parents, we are the only blocks of people with no real legal ability to make educational decisions that impact our children’s overall well being in public schools! But collectively, we the parents have the power to change that! We actually have the power to reform or  shut down low performing schools.  We really do! Remember, our children make up the majority population within America’s public schools…

This is not radical talk. It is real talk! Some may not want to hear it. But they must listen. We must protect our children. And who will do that if we do not?

We must vote. We must educate our neighbors. The Connecticut Parents Union is doing this in our state this year, conducting voter education classes, registration drives, and legislative advocacy training. We, and our fellow Parent Power activists are here to help families in other states do the same.

As Malcolm X once said, when people understand the problems that confront them and their causes, they can take action. It is time for all of us as parents to push back for our children.

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