“If I can sit down for justice, then you can stand up for children” – Rosa Parks.
It’s hard to believe that 2015 has come to a close and 2016 is already well underway. Saying goodbye to the past year will be bittersweet, because this year Stand for Children Louisiana members took many stands for children this year.
From parents who kept up vital discussions about quality public schools in New Orleans, to members pounding the pavement educating their community on vital education issues in Baton Rouge. To excellent educators who continue to take a stand for what is right for students across the state, 2015 was a wonderful year for students because members like you, took a stand.
In 2015 New Orleans Stand parent members decided that two years was too long to wait for a leader for the Orleans Parish schools board. As a result of their hard work and persistence in the search, Dr. Henderson Lewis, Jr. was unanimously selected for the job in January 2015. In July, NOLA Parent Perspectives, a parent-focused discussion about the state of New Orleans public schools 10 years post-Katrina, drew in an audience of over 150 parents, community leaders and stakeholders, with Stand parent members participating in every facet of the conversation. And in the fall, during one 24-hour period, Stand members sent close to 200 letters to OPSB members urging them to pass the policies that required all schools to provide access to transportation and participation in a common application, no exceptions, meaning fewer barriers for parents and students to access high quality public schools.
Baton Rouge Organizers and parents worked harder than they ever have before. In 2015 alone, they met with, spoke to and engaged over 800 parents on vital education issues through more than 70 community workshops and events. They organized more than a dozen community leaders to form an Istrouma Community Stakeholder Team to ensure community members were involved in the re-opening of this historic high school. And when the school board voted to lower GPA requirements for those students participating in extra-curricular activities, more than 100 calls and emails were sent to EBR school board members urging them to require mandatory tutoring for those whose GPA was lower than a 2.0.
More than 150 educators across Louisiana engaged in advocacy through the Educator All Star Program, whether they were inviting lawmakers into their classrooms or writing letters to the editors of major state publications, teachers stayed busy this year fighting for students. During the 2015 legislative session over 2,500 letters were sent to Louisiana lawmakers in support of high student standards. Educator All Stars spoke up for their students and were featured in over 25 print and televised news stories advocating for good policies for their students. 6,000 signatures were presented to the House Education Committee in support of high student standards. And in a few short months over 400 parents and community members have committed to expanding access to high quality early learning programs.
When parents, teachers, grandparents, lawmakers and community leaders from all corners of our state come together to do what is right for students, like they did in 2015, we ensure that they all have a Smart Start and a Strong Finish, we make our wonderful state, a better place to live and grow in.
Let’s keep up the great work in 2016.