When Dealing With School Administration, You Need To Be A Pebble in the Shoe

A few days ago I was in one of those “boring School Board meetings”, which many avoid attending, including community members, parents, teachers, principals and students; some avoid these meetings for lack of interest and others for lack of information. It was a cold and rainy afternoon, but I had to be there. Although I knew that I could see the recording from the comfort of my home, under the warmth of my blankets, a cup of Abuelita’s chocolate and a Mexican bread. However, I decided to attend in person, without knowing anyone and in a strange room, at first out of a sense of commitment, then out of curiosity.

Upon arrival, everything seemed so cramped, and I could not see seats available because there were lots of people blocking the entrance including me, literally, the place was packed. I then found out that members of the Fresno Unified School District board would be sharing valuable information for the audience in the room. To my surprise among the faces in the room, I noticed the principal for my daughter’s school was also there. The funny thing is that although I tried to look him in the eyes to greet her, it seemed he avoided making eye contact with me.  That caught my attention, as I found it odd.

As the meeting progressed, members of the audience vanished, including the school principal. The uproar and applause lasted no more than half an hour. At first, I thought it was great because I would finally have a seat to rest and take my notes comfortably. Within some minutes the place was empty, so my concern began, as it was right at the time when the powerful conversations began about making changes in our schools that most parents are looking for.

I noticed there was space for community members in the agenda, that had hundreds of their requests or express their discontent in the school district. That gave me hope, however, this time my hope was lost as there was only one member of the community expressing their concerns. The rest were gone or perhaps did not make it to the meeting.

One thing came to my mind, in FUSD, we have more than 50% of Latino families that speak Spanish, and I wondered where all those parents were who were unhappy with the results of FUSD, thousand questions invaded my mind. Did these parents not know about the themes of these public meetings and if did not know, was it because the schools did not inform us of these crucial meetings? Because is it more effective to send us information about cookie sales or valuable information that our children will depend on to succeed in school? Which was the real reason for having fewer Spanish speaking parents in attendance?

When I saw the principal leaving, I wanted get close to him to greet him, but he managed evade my greeting, that gave me a clue to the reason why vast majority of Latino parents do not engage effectively not only in these meetings, if not provoke necessary changes.

I can bet that most parents felt displaced and not welcomed in the schools of our children. Parents should be persistent questioners, especially when we are identified as a parent who is “the pebble in the shoe.”

Seems that many parents who attend and have tried to engage, then experience this disconnection,  and no longer feel interested or want to be involved in school issues and only limited to “meet the teacher.”  Experiencing these feelings raised awareness that made me filled with frustration and anger.

What do you think?

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Alicia Aleman

Alicia Aleman

Alicia Aleman migrated from Mexico 13 years ago. She is a first generation college graduate in her family, and holds a degree in child psychology with a focus on education, personal development, and leadership. For two years, Alicia worked for parents groups at several school districts such as Madera, Kerman, Sanger, and Fresno, all projects of the PIQE organization, Parent Institute for Quality Education.
Alicia is the mother of three children, who attend schools in the Fresno Unified School District.

Alicia’s passion is to empower everyone who has a burning desire to conquer his/her dreams and leave a positive impact on future generations. Her personal philosophy is to "Never let anyone tell you that the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon..." Her dreams and aspirations include to empower one million Latino families to find their personal liberation so they can develop their full potential as human beings".

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