Lead Story West Edition

Town hall on education planned for black parents

By Dorany Pineda

Contributing Writer

CENTURY CITY — African-American parents can learn about education opportunities for their children during a live stream of the National Black Parents’ Town Hall Meeting from 3:30 to 6 p.m. June 26 at the Westfield Century City Microsoft Store, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd.

Presented by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Educational Excellence town hall convention in Norfolk, Virginia, will be available via satellite in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The meeting’s primary goal is to spread awareness of ESSA, a federal law that governs the nation’s kindergarten to 12th grade public education policies. Prior to ESSA, education policy decisions like the No Child Left Behind Act were all made by federal and state governments without emphasizing community input, said NNPA’s program manager Elizabeth Primas.

“Because ESSA really focuses on parent engagement so that parents and the community are at the table making the decisions in order to improve education, this law is different from all the other reauthorizations,” Primas said.

Specifically, the event is an effort to spread awareness of ESSA within black communities. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave the NNPA a hefty grant to execute the public awareness campaign to teach African-American parents “what their rights are in order to help their kids succeed and be successful in school and beyond,” Primas said.

Lynette Monroe, program assistant for the NNPA, said that black communities historically have been underserved in education and educational funding, resulting in a lack of availability of school resources and in academic achievement disparities.

By fourth grade, Monroe said, black and brown students score an average of 26 points less in math and reading than white students, a number that has not changed in years.

So in organizing the first-ever live stream of Virginia’s second Educational Excellence town hall, NNPA associates hope to open education conversations to a broader black community.

Attendees of the satellite events will be fed while seeing the convention in action, getting their questions answered, and participating in group discussions. At the end of it, Primas hopes parents will know how to make a difference in their child’s life “so that the school is not the end-all-and-be-all.”

“Parents have the right to say ‘This is what we want.’… Parents have a voice, and without a parent’s voice, we’re going to get what we’ve been getting and that’s not good enough,” Primas said. “So were hoping that this will be a call to action for parents across the country so they get engaged to make sure that their kids get what they need.”

The Microsoft Store is located on Level 1 near Banana Republic and Bloomingdale’s. To register for the town hall meeting, visit nnpa.org/essa/events.