Realizing the Future in the Present: Parent Organizing as a Practice of Solidarity
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Imagining systemic change can be a lot to ask of Black and Latinx families in urban communities in light of long, sometimes intergenerational histories of marginalization and dehumanization in schools. For twenty years, CADRE (Community Asset Development Redefining Education) has been building the power and leadership of Black and Brown families in South Los Angeles “to protect and promote children’s dignity, opportunity to learn, and self-determination, by being at decision-making and policy-making tables and having the tools to monitor accountability in policy implementation.” When the community organizing group first engaged with the Family Leadership Design Collaborative (FLDC), CADRE had already successfully gotten the district to adopt new school discipline policies to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and had continued to monitor implementation (CADRE, 2017). However, the fundamental relationships and interactions between families and teachers in schools continued to reflect racist, dehumanizing ideologies entrenched in inequitable power dynamics. Maisie Chin, the Executive Director of CADRE, facilitated a series of codesign sessions with CADRE parents between 2017 and 2019 to not only surface these dynamics but to re-imagine how parent-teacher conversations and interactions might be different. CADRE co-designers undertook role-playing and collective reflection to intervene in moment-to-moment interactions as a way to change broader systemic dynamics.
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