National Parents Union Emerges to Disrupt Education Conversation

Jan 16, 2020 12:00:00 AM


When it comes to education news and policy, we are used to hearing about the involvement of a union. However, typically the unions only represent the teachers. A new organization wants to change that.

The National Parents Union is aiming to be exactly what its name implies, an organization that elevates the voice and interests of parents and, by extension their children, into the national conversation. Per the organization’s website:

NPU unites parents of color, low-income parents, special needs parents, single mothers and fathers, grandparents, formerly incarcerated parents and parents in recovery with traditionally represented parent voices to join a vibrant coalition that disrupts the traditional role of parent voice in policy space. It develops a new narrative that is inclusive of families from a wide variety of perspectives.

Keri Rodriguez meeting with parents and grandparents.
Photo courtesy of the National Parents Union

The organization was founded by two Latina mothers, Alma Marquez and Keri Rodrigues. They are uniquely qualified and experienced to lead such an organization due to their experience with Green Dot Public Schools and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) respectively.

The National Parents Union will likely face opposition from the established teachers unions on certain issues—a fact that Marquez maintains highlights the very need for the organization.

They will go to bat for their members, but not for kids ... They are opposed to things that would benefit children. That’s why the National Parents Union is so powerful and so important because we need to counterbalance the narrative. Walking out on kids during a strike for example, in schools that have zero percent proficiency is appalling. And those people should be ashamed of themselves. There are schools in L.A. with zero percent proficiency in math and English, and those teachers were striking. What is wrong with this picture?

Alma Marquez

The National Parents Union is not the first or only attempt to organize parents around education. There are other organizations with similar goals and even names. However, the National Parents Union is one of the few seeking to operate “in the same manner” as the comparable teacher organizations, but from the parent’s point of view.

The organization’s immediate goal is to challenge the political influence of teachers unions and to push important education issues to the surface in the 2020 election.

A version of this post originally appeared on Citizen Education.
Photo courtesy of the National Parents Union.

Andrew Pillow

Andrew Pillow is a fifth grade social studies teacher at KIPP Indianapolis, a charter school where he has taught since 2011. He is also a former Teach Plus Policy Fellow and he has taught technology and social issues.

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