Shirley Irizarry is Executive Director of Parents Invincible in Camden, which supports all high-quality schools, regardless of governance; members also “support school choice and respect parents’ decisions.”
When we first set out to advocate on behalf of parents and their students’ education, we knew we wanted to focus on the issues parents felt were their highest priorities. In order to do so, we took the approach of calling parents and meeting with them one-on-one. Out of these conversations we were able to gather important information and provide individual case management to address their issues with their students’ schools. As of the beginning of the school year, Community Outreach Organizers managed a total of 86 individual cases, most of them were successfully resolved and helped to improve the relationships among school staff, parents, and their students.
In the graphics provided below we have broken down the data we collected by school type and further by high-priority issues. As you can see, Parents Invincible advocates on behalf of families from all school types. The majority of families we worked with represent traditional public schools in the Camden City School District, with Renaissance school families representing the second greatest number of our case management efforts. Although Charter schools represent the third number of families we represent, we are growing more each day to include families from private, alternate, and homeschool environments.
You will also notice the second graphic represents cases by high-priority issues. Of all the issues discussed, transportation is of the greatest concern among parents. It is not surprising as Camden faced a school bus driver shortage that impacts many families in the city. As of this date, many of these cases have not been resolved and there are students who are entitled to transportation services that are not receiving them. Even after parents testified at Board Meetings and we launched a letter writing campaign to the Commissioner of the State Board of Education, parents are facing the hardship of making sure their students get to school every day and on time. I assure you, we will not stop advocating and working on behalf of these families until all students have all the resources they need.
I urge all parents, City and County officials, school and community leaders to continue to put students first and work together to provide the best education to our children! Please take the time to follow us on our social media @parentsinvincible to stay in touch and learn about opportunities to engage and become more involved!