Educational Grassroots Organizing
An important aspect of educational grassroots organizations is that not only education matters, but all issues addressing educational inputs matter. There are many inputs that effect education, including race, economic status, community standards, and many more. Advocating for the improvement or justice on any of these matters impacts education within a specific city like Newark, or for the country overall.
A general theme with grassroots organizations in Newark and across the United States, is that there is great demand for changes to be made for students and teachers. Some grassroots organizations in Newark came about as a reaction the “One Newark” plan enacted by Cami Anderson. PULSENJ and the Newark Trust for Education reacted to the expansion of school choice in Newark and took action by advocating for a greater quality public school education for the students of the city. Newark Trust for Education takes on more of a policy stance, where PULSENJ aims for more community advocacy, especially by the parents. All local grassroots conclude with the same end goal and that is for the equality of opportunity for their community. When it comes to education, grassroots believe in equitable policy decisions made on behalf of all children, particularly in the public schools.
Nationally, the same issues persist. The Journey for Journey Alliance actually partners with many other education grassroots in order to spread their message. The Badass Teachers Movement and Grassroots Education Movement use teacher organizations to enhance their activism. Both of these organizations also believe in a representative elected school board, which is not something that every district has to concern themselves with. Organizations around the country believe that education is a human right and that it is up to more than just teachers and students to fight for this. Parent involvement, union involvement, and entire community involvement is necessary in order to make grassroots organizations work. Education encompasses so many different aspects of the community that it is important for everyone to contribute.
The organizations you will read about below have different and overlapping philosophies and organizational structures, however the end goal, like in any other organization remains the same: improve the education of the students in this country. These organizations exist to look out for what is right in their community and what their neighbors deserve. Education policy is controversial, but its improvement is necessary, which is why grassroots organization attempt to accomplish exactly the descriptions you see below.
Grassroots Organizing in Newark
PULSENJ– Stands for Parents Unified for Local School Education. Their purpose is to assure high quality public education by empowering parents to advocate for their children. They believe in including parents in the decision making process and engaging the community in their public schools.
YouthBuild Newark– A youth and community agency that takes state-standard curriculum for academic instruction. Additionally, they provide training for in-demand sectors of the job market and leadership development services.
Newark Trust for Education– An organization dedicated to coordination of people and resources for the betterment of quality public education in Newark. Believe the interaction between students, teachers, parents, and surrounding community is important to improving and maintaining quality in the public school system.
La Casa de Don Pedro– A community grassroots organization that serves Puerto Rican and Latino community of Newark. They aim to reverse the social, cultural, political, and economic marginalization of their community’s family and children. They provide early childhood centers, operating under the Newark Public Schools and accredited by the NAEYC, after school youth programs, and adult education and family assistance programs.
Grassroots Organizations in the US
Journey for Justice Alliance (National)- A national organization that provides support to local organizations in order to win campaign in their community and uses their national influence to impact federal education policy. Launched an “Education is a Human Rights” campaign to call for the end of school privatization, school closures, and charter school expansion.
Badass Teachers Association (National)- An association that partners with the Journey for Justice Alliance in working towards equality in public school systems for students of color. They demand such agenda items like the elimination of high stakes standardized testing, democratically elected school boards, and overall, an excellent public school education for all students no matter their race, gender, or economic status.
NYC Coalition of Educational Justice (New York, NY)- Parent-led organization in NYC with the goal of ending inequities in the city’s public school system. Current emphasis of advocacy it to improve college readiness for all students and to improve parent engagement in their community and schools.
Grassroots Education Movement (Chicago)- An alliance of parent, community, teacher organizations, and unions who aim to fight racial, gender, economic, and environmental injustices. Believe in education as a human right for all children, as they should better understand the inequalities around them. Currently, GEM is fighting for an elected representative school board in Chicago, sustainable community schools, and participate in the #wechoose movement against corporate education.