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National Parents Union has a simple — but lofty — goal: To create a better present for children. A better present, notes Colleen Cook, director of communications at National Parents Union (NPU), will create a better future for children and their families. “And we can’t wait,” she added, in an interview with The Black Wall St Times.
NPU recently had its annual convening, featuring Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a space where parents and other caregivers learned where and how to organize, and it stood as a reminder of who the organization serves: young people across the nation.
For decades, the model of education in the United States has made policy decisions at the behest of administrators, teachers, and lobbyists. Missing from the equation were parents — and children themselves. NPU provides resources for families to get more involved with their children’s schools, and their education.
Including parents in the mix
“For so long, school education has been done ‘for kids,’ but hasn’t invited parents and other caregivers to be involved. That doesn’t support kids,” Ms. Cook continued. Noting that many schools and educators have a traditional sense of engaged parents, Ms. Cook recognizes that today’s parents face difficulties in meeting the standards many schools expect from families.
“Making sure kids are at school every day is being engaged. Making sure homework is done is being engaged. Reading a book together before bed is being engaged,” she stated plainly during the interview.
National Parents Union teaches parents how to respectfully advocate for their students and themselves. Students are also empowered to engage in discussions about what is best for their education and their educational goals.
More than test scores
It’s a unique approach to education — but one that values students as individuals, rather than as a grade cohort who must make it to high school graduation, often considered the “finish line” of education. “Children are more than test scores,” Ms. Cook noted. “When we see the individual child, we can better serve them.”
To that end, National Parents Union believes that parents are stakeholders in their childrens’ education. NPU recognizes that while kids may spend many hours per day in the classroom, it’s a child’s parents who know them best.
“Students benefit most when parents are involved,” confirmed Ms. Cook, who notes that many parents are unable to attend school events during traditional hours due to working and other responsibilities. “We need a better present for our children, a better future, and a better way for parents to take part in their children’s education.”