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Education Advocates Join In Non-Partisan Summit
Summit attendees gather at the State Capitol before meeting with legislative staff.

More than 100 grassroots parent advocates, newly-elected parent school board members and education experts from 26 counties across California came together in Sacramento earlier this month for California Policy Center’s Parents, Not Partisans Legislative Summit.

The parent and community leaders who attended the summit advocate on diverse issues but share a commitment to parents’ rights in directing the education of their children. Many attendees expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to network with leaders of other like-minded groups to discuss ideas on advancing California’s nonpartisan parent movement.

“The purpose of the summit is twofold: to give parent leaders the tools they need to be as effective as possible in their advocacy and to bring parent groups together to support each other,” said Lance Christensen, California Policy Center’s Vice President of Education Policy and Government Affairs, who moderated the summit sessions.

On Feb. 8, the summit opened with a speech by Lance Izumi on what he sees as the divisiveness being taught in California schools under the banner of Critical Race Theory. Izumi is the author of the newly-released book The Great Parent Revolt and an education expert at Pacific Research Institute.

Later in the morning, Megan Bacigalupi, founder of the CA Parent Power, spoke on a panel on advocating effectively for kids in adverse circumstances along with Dr. Nicole Conragan, a National Coalition for Public School Options board member.

Next, newly-elected Roseville City parent school board trustee Jonathan Zachreson, who founded Reopen California Schools, joined Sharon McKeeman, founder of Let Them Breathe from Carlsbad, on a panel on how to hold school boards accountable.

Other panels focused on helping parents access data and resources on student achievement and school performance, improving literacy and math education in public schools, and increasing education options for families.

In the afternoon, State Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, Vice Chair of the Senate Education Committee, joined newly-elected Assemblyman Josh Hoover on a panel advising parents on how to effectively engage with their local legislators. Both legislators are parents and former school board trustees. Following the discussion, summit attendees lined up to talk with the legislators about their concerns and take pictures.

Senator Ochoa Bogh said the summit “offered hope and validation for those parents who are discouraged” and gave parents “a space to know that they’re being heard and that their values and concerns are being validated.”

“These events are so important because it gives parents access to legislators that are acting on their behalf,” she said.

The closing session with Gustavo Vargas, host of El Diálogo Libre Podcast and numerous Spanish-language television and radio programs, and Cecilia Iglesias, founder of CPC’s Parent Union, focused on media and grassroots outreach strategies to effectively engage Latino families who want better education options for their children.

The next day, dozens of summit attendees headed to the State Capitol for discussions with veteran legislative staff on how the legislative process works. The panelists answered dozens of parent questions on how to best advocate for parents and kids. Attendees also met with legislators.

The summit was “a testament to the resilience of putting parents before partisanship,” noted Christensen.

“These leaders and advocates hold many different viewpoints but all are working tirelessly on their unique missions,” Christensen added. “What unifies and drives them is that they all want what’s best for their kids and are tired of being dismissed by the education officials that are supposed to represent them.”