By Mariana Gutierrez Vega
When I connect with parents across all school districts in El Paso, I hear about some of the work they are doing within their children’s schools to ensure their kids receive the education they need. I hear about the parent clubs they are starting, the conversations they are initiating with principals and teachers, and how they are engaging other parents to get involved in their children’s education.
It reaffirms for me that parents are the most powerful advocates in education – as long as our education system is accessible and invites parents to co-design solutions that improve student outcomes.
Since 2021, our organization has engaged more than 320 parents and provided them with information on issues that impact student learning. Most of the topics we dive into during our CREEED Parent Workshops highlight the resources available to parents and students within their districts, and explore topics like how to prepare for the STAAR exams, how students can get ahead by taking dual credit and AP courses, and others. I’m inspired more and more after a new parent leaves our workshops determined to make the idea of going to college a reality for all students in El Paso.
But there is one area where parents can make a significant difference in education but are often left out of the process: the election of school board trustees. Unfortunately, many parents don’t know what a school board trustee does and the important role they play in students’ educational success.
Most parents are surprised to hear that school board trustees make critical decisions that impact their children’s education. After all, school board trustees are responsible for establishing a school district’s priorities in working with the superintendent; hiring and evaluating a district’s superintendent; assessing educators’ impact inside the classrooms; how operational budget and federal funds are allocated within the school; and setting budget priorities for a school district.
School board trustees fulfill an important policy role in the educational outcomes of students. If parents care about any of these issues, they can help decide who has a seat at the table where the decisions are made by participating in School Board elections.
Nobody knows students better than their parents, and ensuring parents have the tools they need to be engaged in their education is central to my job.
Last month, CREEED held a parent workshop to discuss what school board trustees do and their responsibilities. Most parents did not realize how important trustees’ responsibilities are and that, ultimately, parents can have a crucial role in deciding who is elected to fulfill these roles.
To all parents with children attending school in the Anthony, El Paso, Socorro, and Ysleta Independent School Districts, this is your opportunity to make your voices heard. Elections are underway in these school districts to choose the school board trustees that will set their direction and priorities for the years to come.
You should take the opportunity to learn more about each candidate and what their vision is for the school district: do they have a plan for ensuring all students receive an education that prepares them for college? Where do they want to direct spending for the school district? How do they plan to engage parents in their decision-making? And you should vote!
Shaping and implementing education policies is not a small responsibility, and through the election process, parents can decide who is the best person for the job. I’m inspired every time I connect with a parent who wants to be more involved in their children’s lives, and for most, that starts with getting involved in their education.
There’s no better way to get engaged than becoming an advocate for their children’s education – and that begins by participating in the upcoming election and voting for the candidates who best represent their child’s needs.
Mariana Gutierrez Vega is the parent and community engagement coordinator for the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development.
Disclosure: The Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development is a financial supporter of El Paso Matters. Financial supporters play no role in El Paso Matters’ journalism.