By Nancy DeVille
Concerned parents in the West Contra Costa Unified School District have formed a new coalition, hoping to provide parents with needed resources while keeping school district administrators accountable.
Alex Beltran, the lead organizer of the West Contra Costa Parents’ Council, says the coalition will bring more resources to schools in underserved communities and ensure that parents stay informed. Beltran is the father of two Ford Elementary students.
Richmond Pulse recently spoke with Beltran about his work with the parent council.
RP: How did the West Contra Costa Parents’ Council originate?
AB: We started thinking about creating a parent organization a year ago that could bring all the parent community together. What I noticed was that the different parent organizations were based mostly on ethnicity. I thought for us to be effective, we needed a parent organization that would be inclusive regardless of color, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability. If we wanted to really be effective and get the necessary changes we wanted to see within the school district, we needed to merge and get together.
RP: Why do you believe the parent council is important now?
AB: Since the election, a lot of parents and students in the Hispanic community have fears about what will happen once the president elect takes power and if he will start deporting all these families. The West Contra Costa Parent Council wants to make sure we are here for those families and that the district responds to complaints.
RP: How is the council reaching out to other parents?
AB: We organized about four months ago and we are networking and trying to connect with more parents. Our plan is to visit every one of the schools in the West Contra Costa School District and let them know about our mission to create effective parent engagement. We want to change the accountability of the district.
The curriculum we’re creating will show parents how decisions are made and priorities are set and why they need to get involved. Every school has a school site council that decides how the school spends money for, say, tutoring, promoting parent engagement. So we are going to be providing this curriculum and education on how decisions that the school site council makes affect the academics, safety and climate of the school year.
RP: Why is it important for parents to be active at their child’s school?
AB: When parents get involved, the success of their student will grow. There’s an incredible gap between the schools within the system that are in the hills and those in the flatlands. We want to close that gap. We understand that gap is a true reflection of what is happening in our community and how it is directly related to the resources our schools receive and we want to fix that. The only way to do it is through parent engagement.
RP: What are some issues you hope the parents’ council can address?
AB: The most important issue right now is to make the district accountable. We want to make the district very aware that we are going to force them to change their malpractices and make them accountable to do their job and ensure our families are getting a good education.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the WCC Parent Council on Facebook.