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New Parent Summer School Provides Resources, Tools, and Support to Advocate Effectively Within Local Communities.
As New Jerseyans get ready for the back-to-school season, JerseyCAN’s inaugural class of 20 New Jersey parents are gearing up to advocate for their children. This summer, JerseyCAN, a nonprofit advocating for high-quality schools for all New Jersey students, launched Parent Champions for Strong Schools. The comprehensive training program for parents from across the state has provided parents with tools to become strong advocates in their local communities. To help anchor this program in its inaugural year, Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz and Senate Education Chair Vin Gopal addressed the participants, sharing valuable insights to provide a deeper understanding of policy creation in New Jersey. Former NJ Education Commissioners David Hespe and Kimberley Harrington Markus also presented at during the weekly training sessions to discuss New Jersey’s educational landscape and best practices emerging to address students’ needs in the wake of the pandemic.
Announced last May, the JerseyCAN program Parent Champions for Strong Schools has united parents throughout the state in a seven-week comprehensive training. Topics addressed included advocating effectively at the local and state level; understanding the education policy-making processes in New Jersey; accessing and utilizing education data, and sharing best practices to address learning loss. Parents have been looking at recent data and understanding the urgency of academic recovery for students.
“Parent Champions for Strong Schools gives parents an opportunity to collaborate and learn about advocacy, strengthening their voices, and develop a stronger sense of ownership toward their public school system,” stated Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz. “JerseyCAN is training the next generation of parent leaders, which can help further develop needed activism and information sharing on the local level. I applaud these parents’ advocacy on behalf of their children. Their commitment to our state’s future was inspiring, and I look forward to seeing these parent advocates in action in upcoming months and years.”
“What an inspiration to see parents taking the time during their summer schedules to learn how to become better advocates,” stated Senate Education Chair Vin Gopal. “I want to congratulate all the parents participating, thank JerseyCAN for their outstanding leadership, and reiterate that there is no substitute for hearing directly from parents about their educational concerns and the solutions they seek.”
“JerseyCan is providing a unique training forum for parents. The program shares vital information that makes all stakeholders accountable,” stated Alfreda Clancy, one of the New Jersey parents participating this summer in Parent Champions for Strong Schools. “JerseyCAN shows you what to do and puts you in contact with other parents that are making a difference. You become equipped to build a community of concerned parents. You’re never alone. We are a family of concerned parents that are changing education for our children.”
“At JerseyCAN, we know that parents are seeking more information and tools to advocate for schools to meet students’ needs as we emerge from the pandemic. We are so grateful that Senate Majority Leader Ruiz and Senator Gopal could help us launch the first of multiple sessions throughout July and August. We are also deeply appreciative of former NJ DOE Commissioners Hespe and Harrington Markus sharing their guidance and valuable information as well,” stated Janellen Duffy, Senior Policy Advisor for JerseyCAN. “JerseyCAN was built on the foundation that parents and families are the best advocates for their children, and with more parents in New Jersey now becoming involved in their children’s education, it was clear that there was a need to build a training and a platform that would connect parents directly to policymakers. As we begin the 2022-23 school year, educators, administrators, and policymakers must work with parents and families to ensure students across the state have equitable access to quality education. This inaugural training is well underway, and we have a lot of work to accomplish over the next few weeks, but we could not have asked for a better start.”