City of Promise members starting Black Parents’ Association for Charlottesville City Schools
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A group of parents and child-advocates in Charlottesville are coming together to create a new group for Black parents and guardians to make their voices heard with the city’s school system.
Mary Coleman and Crystal Johnson are the women working behind the scenes to get the group, called the Black Parents’ Association, off the ground. They say they want to work alongside existing parent groups to make sure Black parents and guardians are able to share their concerns and interests with each other and with the school system.
“In the decades since schools have been integrated, it doesn’t mean that Black parent voices and influence have also been integrated, so this is an opportunity to really bring Charlottesville into the 21st century in terms of having Black voices at the table around the issues that matter to parents,” Coleman said.
Both Coleman and Johnson are working to gather interest in the group now before the new school year.
“We think it’s important to have this Black Parents’ Association so that Black voices can be heard, so there’s a safe space for people of color in Charlottesville to come, voice their concerns, or whatever their needs are, for their children,” Johnson said.
It comes at a time when, both say, parents may have more questions or concerns about what’s happening at school.
“Because of COVID-19, parents have had a birds-eye view into how school is delivered, so now they have even more information about how the classroom dynamics and how children are presented with information, how children are called on by their teachers, so now they have some really strong input, perhaps, to offer,” Coleman said.
The group would cater to each schools’ unique needs and be a tool for collective action. Johnson said it’s something Black parents associated with the school system are looking for.
“I think they are willing to put their voices out there, but they’re waiting to see the change that they want,” Johnson said.
Both Coleman and Johnson work with City of Promise, an organization aiming to end generational poverty and close the achievement gaps among Charlottesville’s students. They say the creation of the association can help.
“If we can do anything to empower parents to be their child’s best, first teacher and also to improve classroom dynamics or the way education is delivered in Charlottesville, that’s going to be a big positive,” Coleman said.
There will be an interest meeting on Zoom Wednesday, May 26 from 8-9 p.m. for parents and guardians to learn more or voice their opinions on the group.
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