We’re Real Parents With Real Issues and We Need Solutions to Fix Our Schools

This blog was originally published on Education Post website. Education Post is a national organization seeking to elevate the voices of the people who matter the most in the movement to improve schools: parents, kids and teachers.

Allison Simpson is a working mother of two beautiful daughters. Allison became an education advocate five years ago when searching for a school that fit her daughter’s needs for kindergarten. Feeling alone and realizing the process was not simple for parents on the go, Allison dedicated her time to advocating for a change in the system so that all families would have equal access to a quality education.

We’re Real Parents With Real Issues and We Need Solutions to Fix Our Schools

When my daughter is on the playground, I see her playing with kids from district, charter and private schools, and even some others who are homeschooled. Never once have I heard a child at the park say, “I can’t play with you because you have on a purple shirt,” or, “I can’t play with you becuase you have a weird logo on your shirt,” or, “Ew you can’t be my friend because you don’t even have a logo on your shirt.”

Instead I see happy, smiling faces. I see children crying because they don’t want to leave the park and I hear my daughter shouting, “Bye—you’re my best friend and I’ll see you tomorrow!”

WHY CAN’T WE LIVE BY OUR CHILDREN’S EXAMPLE? Why can’t we as parents, as community members and as elected officials stop this conversation about type and work together? If our kids don’t care, why should we?

That’s why my work with Nashville Rise is so important.

Nashville Rise is a parent-led advocacy organization that informs, empowers and engages all parents to elevate their voices around increasing access to high-quality educational options. Nashville Rise parents envision that, through our work within the community, parents will be informed—resulting in empowered youth and engaged communities.

PARENTS ARE TIRED BUT WE’RE READY TO WORK

We originally began as a faction of Project Renaissance in November 2015. But, in October 2017, we were proud and excited to announce that Nashville Rise has transitioned from being a program under the Project Renaissance umbrella to becoming its own independent, volunteer-led nonprofit organization.

Our humble beginnings not only made us recognize how important this work is in pursuing a quality education for all students, but also how critical it is that parent voice be involved in that process.

After announcing our independence, we went to work! Nashville Rise PALs—also known as the core parents or Parent Advocacy Leaders—voted for board members who have genuine interests in helping us advance our mission.

Our dynamic parents assumed leadership positions and began the strenuous task of planning strategic efforts that promote and drive advocacy in Nashville.

Our immediate and primary goal has been to be more intentional with cultivating long-standing relationships that we’ve built in the past, and to begin building new ones. We recognize that much of our community is disengaged—unaware of how fragmented public education is in our city or afraid to voice their concerns and needs. We’re here to support those who have been marginalized and disempowered.

We’re building a movement—a coalition of empowered parents, grandparents, teachers, aunts, uncles and future parents. And we have demands.

SCHOOL LEADERS, ELECTED OFFICIALS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS, WE WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT NASHVILLE RISE PARENTS ARE REAL PARENTS WITH REAL ISSUES LOOKING FOR REAL SOLUTIONS.  We are ready to begin the conversation about our broken system and learn how we can fix it together.

Members of our group are demanding that our educational stakeholders and elected officials talk to us. We are humble individuals—we know that we don’t have all the answers and we understand we can’t do it alone.

We’re not pointing any fingers, nor are we placing any blame. We’re simply saying that we want to work together with the people responsible for improving the quality of education for students in our communities.

Parents are tired. We’re tired of the social-media wars, tired of the side conversations and tired of the hate—but we’re ready.

We’re ready to collaborate, put our differences aside for our kids and—most importantly—we’re ready for change. Because the main people suffering are our children.

Let’s put down our phones, close our computers, stop all social media attacks and devote our time to ensuring every child—regardless of zip code, regardless of race or nationality—receives a quality education and has equal access to schools that will prepare them to be college- or career-ready. Let’s work together to improve our schools!

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