If I came across a magic genie today and was granted a single wish, my one wish would be that we could take our Stand University for Parents (Stand UP) program to every single school in Oklahoma. It is the most compelling and successful parent engagement program I have ever witnessed.
When I saw how Stand UP was helping parents in other states find their voice, I knew it was something I wanted Stand for Children Oklahoma to bring to our schools. Stand UP invites parents of all backgrounds to take a six-week journey learning how to build relationships with teachers and principals, how to stand before a school board and advocate for their kids, how to help with homework, how to prepare their kids for education beyond high school, and more!
Recently, 27 parents from Cesar Chavez Elementary in Oklahoma City walked across the stage at our first ever Stand UP graduation ceremony to collect their diplomas. Watching the children watch their parents walk across the stage to get their diploma that night, I couldn’t help but be reminded of being a 10 year-old child watching my own mom walk across the stage to get her diploma when she graduated college. My mom worked so hard to earn that degree while raising me and my sister while also working multiple jobs. When I watched her walk across the stage to receive her degree, a lasting impression was made – that hard work and determination can open the door to endless possibilities.
For 27 parents to commit two hours a week (on a Tuesday night, no less!) for six weeks to learn how to become more involved in their kids’ education is nothing short of inspirational. These parents’ commitment to their children, their school, and their community simply made me want to give even more children across this state the chance to witness something similar.
Since Stand UP graduation, I’ve seen the sense of urgency in our parents to be more involved, to take a stand, and to have their voices heard. One of our graduates, Rosalba Torres, has worked tirelessly to lead an effort to increase voter turnout for the upcoming school board election, through our Escúchanos OKC! initiative. Another graduate – Jesseica Garcia – penned a brave blog about why she supports the penny sales tax initiative to increase investments in critical education reforms and give our teachers a pay raise. While learning about ways to help send her kids to college, Stand UP graduate Jacqueline Franco herself decided she wanted to go back and get her degree – incredible, right?!
One can only imagine what a difference would be made if parents throughout the state were granted this opportunity. We are doing our best to expand this program so that parents in towns all over Oklahoma can be empowered to demand excellent schools, and, in the process, inspire the children who watch them make such a powerful commitment for their future.
Watch this Stand UP video. I dare you not to cry. Then go ahead and share with your friends.