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The Center for Policy, Research, and Evaluation at NYU Metro Center Continues work on WK Kellogg Foundation Grant, Hosting Conversation on Parent-Led Racial Equity Movements


The Center for Policy, Research, and Evaluation (PRE) at NYU Metro Center recently held a virtual conversation featuring parent leaders and staff from leading parent leadership organizations across the country. These parent leaders gathered together to share their personal stories, motivations, and considerations as to why they engage in racial equity work. They also discussed the impact that conducting this equity work has had upon their respective families, schools, and communities.  

The findings offered in this latest PRE webinar are the result of ongoing research initiated back two years ago. It was back in January 2021, when PRE launched a peer learning community for parent leadership organizations to advance their racial equity work. Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Parent Leadership Racial Equity Peer Learning and Inquiry Community, was established as a partnership between PRE and four parent leadership organizations across the country. Over the past two years, this learning community has been collecting data to inform and evaluate the racial equity action plans of each of those four parent leadership organizations.  

After completing a participatory evaluation project as part of an earlier project the Parent Leadership Evaluation Network (PLEN)parent leaders and staff from the four organizations decided to deepen their work on racial equity. The learning community has been meeting monthly to discuss their plans and the racial equity issues they are addressing. Groups also meet internally and with members of the PRE team every month. Each of the four organizations has a different racial equity focus.

The Greater Rochester, New York Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) focuses on increasing teacher diversity in Rochester and surrounding areas. PLTI is having conversations with parent leaders and key stakeholders to decide how to create systemic change.

Parents for Public Schools (PPS) in Mississippi is planning and engaging in community conversations about racial inequities across Mississippi. In response to these dialogues, PPS is creating civic academies to work on these issues.

Organizers in the Land of Enchantment in New Mexico (OLÉ) are revisiting community meeting norms to better serve their membership. To ensure that Spanish-speaking, immigrant, and BIPOC members are central in OLÉ’s work and campaigns, OLÉ examined whether their practices are fully inclusive and equitable.

The Washington State Association (WSA) Parent Ambassadors have revised their mission, vision, and values statements to reflect their commitment to racial equity. WSA has engaged their Parent Ambassador alumni in conversations about these revisions and will administer them amongst new cohort members.

Anne T. Henderson, founder of the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement, introduced the representatives from each of the parent leadership organizations and began the conversation by asking what inspired them to conduct the social justice work? Many parent leaders generally agreed that their racial equity and justice efforts were motivated by their children. Parents and caregivers conveyed that they were driven to make positive change in their community. Whether restructuring local schools to be more inclusive, improving access to mental health resources, or working to improve local housing stock, members of parent leadership organizations aimed to enrich the lives of both their families and neighbors. Members of PTLI, PPS, OLE, and WSA concurred that the desire to improve the experiences of their children, as well as the conditions of the world they would ultimately inherit, proved to be a compelling rationale for their community work.  

Tanya Marsaw, a mother of three and a parent leader in PPS, recounted her interaction with a recent initiative in her children’s school district pertaining to opening a dialogue and introducing curriculum that defined what race “is” and the role it plays in our modern society. Already being a part of a community of practice, Tanya deftly led fellow parents in navigating this contentious school matter. As a result of her participation with Mississippi’s Parents for Public Schools, Tanya organized meetings between districts and community leaders, successfully advocating on behalf of her school cohort. PRE’s Dr. Danielle Perry explained that by allowing for collaboration between parent groups and providing a space for parents to have their voices heard, parents recognize that they are not alone in their efforts for justice.   

Tanya Marsaw recommended that parents interested in racial equity participate in initiatives that develop their leadership skills and support them to better understand what racial equity means, as well as what policies they should collectively support and advocate for. Other recommendations coming out of the webinar included a focus on communications. Each of the four parent leadership organizations expressed the importance of being able to share one’s point view with the public at-large, via blog posts, newsletters, and social media. 

Read more on the Center for Policy, Research, and Evaluation (PRE) and their work in research and evaluation studies focused on promoting positive educational outcomes for youth, and understanding the influence of both schools and communities on those outcomes.