It goes without saying that parents should have a larger voice in education policy debates. Education is about their children and their future and no one has a greater stake than parents. With that in mind, Education Post is proud to announce that Gwen Samuel, President and Founder of the Connecticut Parents Union, is joining our advisory network. In that role she will offer guidance from the perspective of a parent and identify parent voices to speak out on various issues.
In the space of just three years, Ms. Samuel has turned the CTPU into a force for positive change in Connecticut and now she is expanding her own network to several other states. Along with other parents and educational advocates, she successfully introduced the so-called “Parent Reform Trigger” law to Connecticut. The law gives parents legislative relief through School Governance Councils, allowing them to make recommendations for a school improvement model that supports turning around a systemically low-performing school.
A mother of two, Ms. Samuel shares our belief in high standards, real accountability and educational options for families where they are wanted and needed. She is as frustrated as we are by the tone of much of the public debate and eager to engage in a more productive way.
“I’m seen as this radical mom, but how is it radical to want what’s best for your children? Life is not fair, but (our children) deserve a fair shot at it,” Ms. Samuel said in a recent interview. “Most of my job is just encouraging people… helping parents understand their power as a consumer.”
Above all, Ms. Samuel is motivated by the belief in equity of educational opportunity and greater equity of educational outcomes. As the attached graphic shows, just 10 percent of low-income children earn a four-year college degree compared to 50 percent of middle-income children.
“At the end of the day, at the beginning of the day, in the middle of the day, it has to be about children,” she said. “But it’s not. And I’ve met kids who say, ‘Well, that’s just how it is.’ No, it’s not. It’s like it is because we’ve allowed it to be so, and this is not OK.”
While many of us here at Education Post are current or former public school parents, we welcome her unique voice on behalf of America’s school parents.