Charter Schools

They Won't Just Fix the Schools for Us, We Have to Make Them Do It

Dear parents,

Guess what? If you hate your child’s school or aren’t satisfied with the quality of education they’re receiving, you shouldn’t expect anyone to fix that problem for you. The solution lies in your hands.

History has proven this. 

The United States didn’t just decide that it would be nice to kick the separate but equal laws under Plessy v. Ferguson to the curb and give Black kids access to all schools. Parents had to fight for that and won through Brown v. Board of Education. Same thing with Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and more recently, Sheff v. O’Neal in Connecticut. 

There have been cases where parents and students have fought for the rights of special needs kids, funding and language equity.

Realistically, many teachers don’t even send their kids to the schools in which they teach. And while many politicians vigorously fight charters and choice to preserve a cherished public education system, they send their kids to private schools.


So, because they don’t have much of a stake or faith in those schools and their kids have other, better options, they’re really not that invested in fixing them.

This may be a revelation to some of you and feel like an impossible battle to others. But I assure you, this fight is worth fighting. And this fight can be won because there are parents doing it as we speak. 

The Black Parents of Arlington in Virginia is a group on the frontlines of the battle. Now while the Arlington school district may be the best in the state, it’s only the best for wealthy, White kids. These parents are demanding equity and equality for Black students so they can also reap the benefits offered by a top-notch district.


Then the parents of the group Moms for Free Public Education actually ended up meeting online. They all joined forces in a shared frustration over their kids being denied services in public schools because they’re special needs students.


These are just a few examples of parents leading the charge. They are not alone—there are parents and families around the country who are coming together in their local schools and districts to fight for the educational opportunities they need and deserve.

I want to highlight a few things from these examples—things that you need to know in order to organize and fight.

First, you’re not alone in this and thus, you will not be alone in the fight. And your story is vitally important and guaranteed to resonate with and inspire someone else—which is why it’s important that you tell it.

Again, the group MOMS4FAPE met online with a few parents airing their frustrations. They ended up forming a Twitter page in late July and now have close to 1,000 followers and members who are telling their stories and sharing opinions on various platforms and addressing congressional bodies.


So whatever pain you’re experiencing, another parent somewhere feels that same pain and wants to vent and fight with you. 

There’s power in numbers. Once you find those people with shared values, frustrations and needs, you take advantage of that and build a community of warriors who bring a variety of skill sets, voices and backgrounds that can undoubtedly disrupt the status quo. That’s what Black Parents of Arlington is doing.


And finally, you come up with a plan. You set goals and unwavering demands, identify your targets, come up with a strong and consistent message, gather your receipts—by receipts I mean quantitative and qualitative data that support your argument—and commence with whooping ass and taking names. 


Your efforts will not go unnoticed. Other parents will take notice and join your coalition, elected officials and administrators will have to respond and be held accountable and media will report on it. 


Months ago I spoke of a revolution and ladies and gentlemen, it has arrived. You may not be ready, you may not feel empowered, you may even still be hoping that the decision-makers will make it right. But when it comes to education liberation, keep this quote from Malcolm X in mind.

Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.

So here’s where you can start. There are groups like this springing up all over the country and we need to support each other. Since we're keeping a list of parent advocacy groups, find one near you and join their efforts. 

Remember, you-plus-we have the power and own the responsibility to turn things around for our kids.

Tanesha Peeples
Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and ...

Join the Movement