As the year comes to a close, we're looking back at all the truly amazing things our members accomplished this year for children, and we want to share a few of these stories with you.
We're so proud to call the following people Stand for Children members, because without their hard work, we couldn't accomplish many of our wins for students.
Dana moved here from Arkansas a few years ago. Her two eldest children had gone through Arkansas public schools, but her third child, Abbey, started her freshman year here in Oregon. When Abbey brought home her class schedule for that year, it had three blank spaces on it. She and her mom were perplexed as to why 20% of her school year was missing, because the concept of “part-time high school,” in the 9th grade no less, was unheard of back in Arkansas. They fought hard to fill Abbey’s schedule, but all they could add was a study hall. That's when Dana connected with Stand.
The same thing happened Abbey’s sophomore and junior years. Soon, Abbey’s concerns about having an adequate course load for college applications felt increasingly trivial as she began to worry about having enough credits to graduate on time. Dana united with scores of Stand members from across the state demanding swift change to the state rules that govern high school schedules. Together, we built an unstoppable, parent-powered movement, and helped generate the second highest number of public comments ever made to the state board of education.
And as a result, all school districts will soon be required to provide full schedules to nearly all of their students.
Before he went to Stand University for Parents (Stand UP), Jason never would have thought he could write a speech about why we need change in our schools, recommend what those changes should be, and then give that speech to the entire IPS board and a packed audience. But he did. For his kids and others in Indianapolis.
Jason said, "Stand UP taught me about the state of our schools and, more importantly, that I have a voice in trying to fix them. Your support will help parents just like me find their voices and ensure their kids graduate high school prepared for success. Stand for Children Indiana has changed my life and the lives of my kids. They were in the audience when I spoke at the school board meeting and were so proud of me. They, too, see that anything is possible now."
Ryan teaches economics at North Dallas High School. His inspiration to pursue a teaching career stems from his high school English teacher, who supported him through addressing the board on an issue regarding censorship of the school newspaper. The experience of having that teacher stand so strongly behind him made Ryan want to be that support for somebody else someday. Watch Ryan’s story.
As a member of Stand, Ryan is passionate about his duty to ensure children are receiving what they’re entitled to, which is an effective, excellent, equitable education. He knows the future of Dallas starts in its schools, so he stresses the importance of being the voice for our kids. Because if we don’t stand for them, who will?
We work with members like Ryan every day to give more children access to a great education led by high-quality teachers. Our members, like Ryan, organize rallies, empower parents to take action in their local schools, and hold public officials accountable to our students. One of our major projects right now in Dallas is the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project (PTHVP), which aims to improve student success by sending teachers on home visits to build relationships and encourage teamwork between teachers and families.
Many of the parents from Oliver Wendell Holmes Elementary School had never been involved at school or taken a keen interest in something like the Common Core. But, more than a dozen parents changed that when they completed the eight-week Stand University for Parents program. Their dedication to their children and community pushed them past whatever hesitations they might have had.
Their commitment to education led this group of parents to become involved our hallmark parent education program. Stand UP gives parents the tools to become more engaged in their children’s education and how to help their children succeed. The parents of the Oliver Wendell Holmes graduating class are commited to the fight for better schools. They will continue to lead our organization as forceful voices for change both here in Chicago and across Illinois as they become members who organize rallies, empower parents to take action in their local schools, and hold public officials accountable to our students.
Lacie is the mother of five children, three of whom attend East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. One child is in Head Start and one is still waiting to get in to a quality early learning program. With five children, Ms. Lacie knows that she has to be her children’s best and strongest advocate.
Earlier this year Ms. Lacie linked up with Stand Louisiana and began to learn - through Stand workshops and trainings – how to support her own children as they work hard to succeed in school and how she can teach other parents to do the same so that every child in Baton Rouge gets a quality education that prepares them for any big dream they may have for their life.
What we saw in Ms. Lacie happens with Stand Louisiana parents all the time. Once Ms. Lacie realized the impact she could have on her – and all children’s – success, she started getting more involved: attending school board meetings to stay up on the issues that impact her children, advocating for student-centered policies, and recruiting more parents to become advocates just like her.
In fact, since joining Stand for Children Louisiana, Ms. Lacie has volunteered countless hours to educate her community and advocate for more quality early learning programs, higher quality schools in East Baton Rouge Parish, and initiatives that will increase the on-time graduation rate for students.
This year, Ashleigh represented Stand for Children as a Tennessee parent in Washington, D.C. for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Right’s ESEA Lobbying Day. Not only is Ashleigh a parent who believes in education equity for all students, but she also committed her professional life to the field of education. The Leadership Conference Lobbying Day afforded Ashleigh her first trip to D.C., her first time lobbying, and her first time meeting and speaking with members of Congress.
Ashleigh said, "Visiting D.C. for the first time and having the opportunity to speak to my State representatives about the children in Tennessee and the city of Memphis was a remarkable experience. I was able to bring to life how ESEA must be strengthened to address civil rights priorities and how strengthening the Act will impact my neighbors, my friends and folks in my community.
I must admit, walking around Capitol Hill was a tad bit daunting—the buildings’ grandiose and majestic appearance, the myriads of passers-by dressed professionally and simply, occupying the space of power and influence where top-down decisions are made that impact Americans across the country. Nevertheless, I made my way along with other Tennesseans to each Congressman’s office with my nerves, uncertainties and discomfort joining with me. The only thought that gave me the peace and, quite frankly, the audacity to speak up for the civil rights priorities outlined in our agenda were the children. I knew they needed the state of Tennessee to be more accountable and to ultimately, make sure that federal dollars are reaching kids who need it the most.
The biggest takeaway from my trip to D.C. is that I have a voice and that my voice matters. I vote, and I have a voice in policy that impacts students across the country. It’s my right to speak up and voice my thoughts, my experiences and my views on how the policy will impact my world and the world of my son, Isaiah, and other children in Tennessee."
This holiday season, we hope you’ll consider making a donation to support our members - like Jason, Dana, Ashleigh, Ryan, Lacie, and the parents at Holmes Elementary - and invest in our work to change the world.