Last year, I was introduced to PAVE when a good friend and current PAVE PLE Board member invited me to join her at the 2017 PAVE Parent Policy Summit. Seeing my friend be a part of something that allowed her, as a parent, to really use her voice to advocate on behalf of her children made me want to get more involved, but I can honestly say that I was nervous walking into the Summit not knowing what to expect.
One of the first things I can recall that made an impact on me was the conversation starter cards on each table. Seeing those immediately made me feel “included,” which is not usually my experience in rooms with individuals I do not know. Though I have been in a few settings like this before, that one touch set PAVE apart from all the others and made me feel more confident that I was in the right space.
I loved everything about the Summit! I loved the parent-led discussions at our tables, the fun activities, and the PAVE parent leaders who stood before the room to tell their stories about the issues their families were facing. Different than any other event I have ever been a part of, after our discussions, we – the parents – voted on the issues that WE wanted to focus on. PAVE would take the top voted issues and make them the focal point of our work for the upcoming year.
I voted for ‘Increased Access to Out of School Time (OST) Programs’ and ‘Great Schools in every Ward and One City-wide School Report Card’ as the issues I wanted to see PAVE tackle, because these two concerns have always been at the top of my list.
I voted for access to OST programs because I have an 11-year-old son who has never been able to take advantage of a seat in a summer program in the six straight years I’ve been trying to get him into one, which has ultimately hurt our family and lifestyle. I also know the inequality in our school system first-hand. Although we live in Ward 8, my child has only had one Ward 8 educational institute experience. I am a parent who wants the best options for my son and since he was in 1st-grade there has not been a school in Ward 8 that I would willingly place him at. There are more options now than 8 years ago, but I would like to see Ward 8 have great school choices for not just my son but every child living East of the River going forward.
This year, I want to see parents make sure that we hold our elected officials accountable to the issues we have already raised, and not let these issues fall through the cracks without seeing real actions implemented.As a collective voice, PAVE parent leaders have the mandate to see that our issues are taken seriously by our city’s leaders. Ultimately, we the parents/guardians hold the key to laws and policies, and decisions in the city, we just need to know that we do.