Most parents care about their kids. In fact, most parents care deeply. When it comes to stepping up and taking action when schools undermine your parenting goals, you might not know where to start. “Get involved” can be a generic idea. It sounds nice…but you have questions.
“What am I supposed to do?”
“How much time is this going to take in my life? Because I’m juggling a lot.”
We know you have your child’s future success and happiness in mind, so we talked to a parent like you: Yesli Vega.
Raised by passionately patriotic immigrants, Vega loves her American heritage and works to help her fellow citizens advocate for their right to representation. She’s also a mom with two kids, so she understands the pressures that public school parents face today as controversial school board decisions continue to crop up across the country.
After serving several communities as a law enforcement officer, Vega currently represents her neighbors on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, a local government body in Virginia similar to a county council or county commission.
In this interview segment with the Noah Webster Educational Foundation, Vega points out several action steps that parents can take to ensure that schools respect their authority and act in their kids’ best interests. Click here to watch entire interview.
NWEF President MELVIN ADAMS:
“So, you’re talking about parental involvement, and you have been quite outspoken in your community about what’s going on with your school district and trying to stem some of the directions there, perhaps.
Tell us a little bit more about some of the things you’re doing, what kind of responses you’re getting from your community or your school board or whatever. Because at the end of the day, what we’re doing through Noah Webster is we want people to tell their stories.
And we get a lot of different stories from a lot of different perspectives. But I believe as individuals tell their stories, it gives ideas, it helps foster courage and purpose to other parents… ideas. Some things we learn and say, “Ah, I’ll never do that,” others say, “Wow, that’s a great idea! I could do that.”
So tell us a little bit more about the things you’re involved in, things that you believe are giving positive results… just talk to us a little bit.”
“Absolutely. I think that the first place folks should start is identifying other parents within the neighborhood, within the community, that don’t agree with this narrative that’s being pushed or shoved down our children’s throat. So, once you identify certain folks who share the same views and concerns as you do, then you start to create your network.
And I think it’s extremely important to identify who those folks are, but then to start to take action and to take a really deep dive into curriculums, what the school board is doing. What are they proposing?
You have to read between the lines because we’ve gotten to this point, Melvin… because they presented this as a nice gift. They wrapped it up, put a nice bow on top of it, and [said] “We mean no harm.”
But once you start to rip the wrapping paper, and you undo the bow, and you start to open up the box, then you realize. Wow, this is really not a gift. What do I have here?
And so I think it’s really important for parents to start digging, to start reading, and then start questioning, start showing up. Elected officials are public servants. We are in these positions and these seats because of people that voted us into these positions. And therefore we are accountable—right?—to the people that voted us into office.
And so I think that it is extremely important for parents to get organized, and then once they’ve gotten organized, they can mobilize. So you start to email your school representative. You are absolutely in your right to ask for a meeting and to have open dialogue in a respectful manner.
As you can imagine, this is an issue that is going to cause a lot of emotion—we’ve already seen it—but at the end of the day, what we’re trying to accomplish is what’s best for our children and what’s best, really, for society as a whole.
And we’re not going to accomplish that by coming at it from a disrespectful standpoint and trying to be at each other’s throat—no! We want to have the conversation, but we have to do it in a respectful manner, because at the end of the day, our children are still watching us, right? And this is about our children and what we’re trying to teach them. And they’re watching how we’re going about this.
And so I think it’s important to email our school board representatives to ask for meetings, to ask for town-halls, for all of these events where the community can show up and ask questions and where everybody can hear all sides of the argument. And hopefully come to the conclusion that this is not a road we want to take our children down. This is not a path that children should be on.
The purpose of school is for our children to go to be taught to read, to write, math— you know, about history—that’s what school should be all about, and we have clearly gone down a different road. And we have to bring it back. And so there is power in numbers, and so parents, you need to unite, you need to come together.
And again, be proactive. Be out there, be on the front lines, advocating for your school, advocating for your children. And I think that that’s really what it’s going to take in order to turn the page in the ugly chapter, and hopefully we never have to find ourselves in this position again.”
Do you need more info to get started? Tune in to our Parental Engagement Q&A Panel broadcast next week on Thursday, August 19, 2021.
If you have a question about parental involvement in schools, you can submit one here for the chance to be featured in the live broadcast.
Our panelists will go live on Facebook at 6 p.m. Central/7 p.m. Eastern time on August 19 to talk about how parents can fuel their children’s education success through intentional involvement. If you live nearby, we invite you to join our live audience in Moneta, Virginia.