In January 2006, two NHPS parents and a community organizer came together around a belief that all children deserve a high quality education. After attending a community organizing training, the trio took a message to the grassroots -- enough talk, we need action! Today, we are proud to be a bilingual and multigenerational organization working to bring some of the most critical and underrepresented stakeholders in our education system to the forefront of reform efforts. Over the years, our work has produced significant improvements in our school system and we have formed valuable new relationships with community organizations and unions across our city and state. In 2010, we realized our dream of organizing NHPS students and developed our first group of youth leaders.
YUED is a student led organization working to increase the participation of students in district decision-making and develop leaders with the skills and experience necessary to hold district leaders accountable and make concrete improvements to our school system.
In 2012, TOC parents and YUED students will work together to draft a platform based on the issues that most directly affect them. We will work with other organizations and community members to be sure that our platform is truly representative and to gain the support of the community we live in. By tapping into the expertise of our members, participating in workshops with organizations across the state, and conducting targeted research we will compose a platform that is grounded in solid research and best practices and driven by the experiences and hopes of our parent and student leaders.
We evaluate our work using the following tools: pre and post-activity evaluations, attendance and participation of members and leaders (sign-in sheets), and assessment and monitoring of victories and accomplishments. We track membership recruitment on membership cards and in our online database. We also hold regular board evaluations of membership, leadership, issue campaign, and organizational development based on concrete data, feedback from members and leaders, and campaign progress. Every year our board of directors comes together to evaluate the accomplishments and challenges of the previous year and set goals for the future. We include goals for improvement in every group evaluation.
As concerned parents and students, the actual impact this project has on our schools will be one of the most important measures of success. We will evaluate this by getting testimonies from parents and students (inside and outside of our organization) about how their schools have changed over the course of the project and how much they felt informed about and included in making the changes happen.
In 2010, we realized our dream of organizing NHPS students and developed our first group of youth leaders. Since then, YUED has grown from 11 to 36 members representing 6 schools, negotiated with top city officials including Mayor John DeStefano, and won their first campaign at one of the largest high schools in town, initiating their first school based chapter – YUED Hillhouse – in the process.
This year, YUED students organized at Hillhouse High School around unsanitary and poorly maintained bathrooms. The group drafted a list of solutions and met with their principal who agreed to each solution presented and enthusiastically endorsed a YUED chapter at his school. The majority of the repairs were completed by the end of the month. This victory was the largest and most direct change YUED students had accomplished and marked the beginning of a mutually supportive relationship with their principal. Realizing their ability to make a difference, the group moved with confidence into their first public meeting and negotiation with the Mayor and Superintendent to secure changes to NHPS budget.
We are proud to be embarking on a pilot program at Hillhouse High School. This initiative is an opportunity for us to leverage tens of thousands of dollars for high quality classroom materials. A successful pilot will allow us to expand this effort across the district and leverage hundreds of thousands of dollars for classroom materials. One of our closest allies in this effort is Hillhouse principal Kermit Carolina. As we work to implement this pilot program and move to expand it, his support for our cause will be a critical asset.
In January 2006, NHPS parents came together around a belief that all children deserve a high quality education and took a message to the grassroots—enough talk we need action! Today, we are proud to be a bilingual and multigenerational organization working to bring the most underrepresented stakeholders in our education system to the forefront of reform efforts.
In 2009, we successfully pushed for implementation of a new district-wide discipline policy that emphasizes fair discipline, including reducing out of school suspensions, by employing in-house alternatives, notifying parents of any disciplinary action, training staff and educating parents and students on the new policy, and making school reports of disciplinary actions publicly available. In a meeting this spring our superintendent agreed to all of our recommendations on this policy and committed to review discipline statistics with TOC annually. This victory affects all 19,851 primarily low and moderate-income minority NHPS students and their families. Our superintendent concluded the meeting by informing leaders that the district also agreed to our request that language in the recently revised bullying policy be clarified to state that all reports of bullying (written and anonymous) must be investigated, documented, and addressed by administrators.
Teach Our Children proudly will close out 2014 as a viable multi-generational community empowerment and education advocacy grassroots organization led by a majority parents and student Board of Directors. Over the past several months, through an issues platform called the “People’s Agenda”, parents and youth address barriers and challenges that most directly affect them. With the “Peoples Agenda”, we have continued to build upon our parent and youth campaign and leadership development efforts within majority minority and low-income neighborhoods throughout New Haven. As we enter 2015, we are building the sustainable, collaborative issues platform needed in order to truly engage those parents and youth, majority Black and Hispanic, too often left of out of decision making within school and community improvement efforts.
We have established relationships with groups like Connecticut Parent Power, Youth Rights Media, and The Connecticut Center for a New Economy. This year, we convened a series of ally meetings in an effort to improve existing relationships and develop new ones. We are excited to be embarking on new relationships with the statewide and local AFT and the New Elm City Dream. We are also affiliated with National People’s Action. This year we hope to host an organizing training in New Haven with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition’s youth initiative Sistas and Brothas United. We plan to open this event up to the larger community, develop the organizing skills of parent and youth leaders across the city, and organize a collaborative action for school improvement. Leaders from the New Elm City Dream and Youth Rights Media have already expressed interest in the event. We are also working with the Citywide Youth Coalition to organize a youth summit. This summit will be an opportunity for New Haven youth to come together and make decisions about how to improve their community together.
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Educate a child and you change a community. For the child, a good education means better career opportunities and higher lifetime earnings. College graduates enjoy better health and are more inclined to volunteer and vote. For the community, supporting our youths’ educational goals results in a stronger society.
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