In the spirit of community engagement, parents around the city are preparing to step up their engagement regarding their children’s neighborhood schools.
Tomorrow night (and again on 5/13), Gina Verdibello, (former school board candidate and local education activist) is hosting informal parent meetings focused on improving the Jersey City Public Schools at the Hank Gallo Community Center in Lincoln Park from 6-8pm. (On 5/13 the meeting will be during the day: 11am-1pm.)
I had a chance to talk to Gina about the meetings, her vision, and the benefits of getting involved.
Me: Who’s invited?
Gina: Everyone’s welcome. Parents, grandparents, guardians, and community members. We can’t provide babysitting, but people can bring kids if they want. I’d rather have people there so if that means they have to bring their kids, I welcome the kids too.
What’s the goal?
To gather parents from various schools and empower them to advocate for the district. Parents have a voice and it matters.
As one of the moderators of the Facebook site Jersey City Public Schools District, I’ve seen many issues brought up by parents and community and I’d like to see those issues resolved. It would be nice to meet each other and discuss how we can help each other.
What are the issues?
My issues are different from everyone else’s. I’ve heard concerns that range from rezoning in the Heights to food and facilities. That’s why I want to start the conversation.
From my experience from attending meetings, I have seen changes – because believe it or not, the leadership might not be aware of issues.
And our children go to these schools. If we don’t advocate, who will?
Got any tips on how to advocate?
If you’re having issues at your school, there are methods of communicating with the principal and the board members. Start with email or phone call. If they don’t get resolved, bring it to their attention at a board meeting. It’s a good idea to keep a paper trail. You can also take pictures when that’s applicable to help create visuals. And then bring them with you to a meeting.
But maybe most importantly, we should be a support group for each other by going to these meetings together. It’s a group effort, right?