Not your parents' PTA

Article Highlights

  • Edreform is awash in a surge of #parentpower, said @AndrewPKelly & Pat McGuinn via @educationweek.

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  • Early #parentpower successes have also unearthed the challenges facing parent-driven reform.

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  • How sustainable is meaningful parent mobilization? Authors of "Not Your Parents' PTA" examine ERAO's impact.

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Education reform is awash in a surge of "parent power." Long considered bystanders (or even obstacles) to the push for school reform, a slew of new "education reform advocacy organizations," or ERAOs, such as 50CAN , Stand for Children , StudentsFirst , and Democrats for Education Reform are mobilizing parents to agitate for policy change. From the grassroots pressure on states to raise charter caps and enact teacher-evaluation reforms during Race to the Top to the emergence of the "parent trigger" idea for initiating the overhaul of individual schools, ERAOs are enlisting Mom and Dad to upend the traditional politics of education.

Education reform proponents are rightfully excited about this new parent power; the broader the constituency that supports change, the more pressure elected leaders will feel to enact new policies. But early successes have also unearthed the challenges facing parent-driven reform, raising questions about its impact and sustainability over time. If this new movement is to serve as a lasting counterweight to established interests, advocates must learn from these hard-won lessons.

In an effort to shed light on what education reform advocacy organizations have learned about parent organizing, we interviewed representatives from a wide array of groups—ranging from those with a national presence to those working in just one district. These are not your parents' PTAs: Rather than bake sales and field trips, these groups are focused on mobilizing parents for political activism beyond the schoolhouse.

The full text of this article is available via subscription at Education Week.

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Andrew P.
Kelly

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