Tafshier Kim Cosby is a member of the YouCAN program’s inaugural class. YouCAN is a new initiative that helps community leaders from all over the country build their own local projects to effectuate lasting change in education. Read on to find out more about Tafshier’s plan to transform opportunities for N.J. students!
As an active parent for 24 years with several parent organizations in traditional public, charter and private schools, I know firsthand that parents who are active in school are an important key to helping children succeed. When thinking about parent organizations in schools we often get a picture of bake sales, class moms and potlucks. Those parts still exist, but in Newark, New Jersey parents also need to recognize that the current education landscape allows for them to have a choice and a voice.
The City of Newark, New Jersey offers families several types of school options—both private schools and public schools (traditional and charter). School parent organizations are at their core, comprised of community members who share a common goal of engaging on issues surrounding their child’s school, building leaders and using their voices to connect the community together.
Increasing the existing level of parental and community involvement allows for even more effective communication and opportunities to create a collective support system to ensure student success. That is why my YouCAN project will focus on increasing the number of parents and community members who will be trained and certified as Parent Advocate Leaders.
Training parents and community members on how to effectively lead will help parent organizations in all schools grow. The Parent Advocacy Leadership course is currently being offered by the Black Alliance for Educational Options in New Jersey (NJ BAEO), and it is free and open to the public. The training and certification is a six-week course to engage parents in topics ranging from how to develop and deliver an elevator pitch, find the right school for your child and engage with elected officials.
As an education advocate for my own family and neighbors, going through the first cohort class of the BAEO Parent Advocacy Leadership program empowered me with the education and drive to help other parents advocate on behalf of their children. Since completing the class, I have co-facilitated a Parent Advocate Leader course at a Newark charter school. I also created and facilitated a Parent Advocate Leader Boot Camp to keep parents engaged after training concluded.
My YouCAN project is about training leaders in communities in Newark, and it is my goal from the start of the school season in September 2016 to December 2016 to have one or more members of parent organizations certified as Parent Advocate Leaders at all schools in Newark.
Increasing the collective knowledge of the Newark community with education information and providing effective training will truly transform the meaning of parent involvement in all schools; ensuring each and every child in Newark has access to the best education experience possible.