Parent Voice Triumphs in Redwood City

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by David Kuizenga
Vice President, Bay Area

On Wednesday, June 26, the power of parent voice prompted a 5-0 vote in favor of two new high performing school options in Redwood City: Rocketship and KIPP.

This victory for Redwood City parents was fueled by more than two years of persistent work and community organizing.

“We’re really excited the petition just passed. It’s been a long time coming. Soon, I will no longer have to drive 45 minutes away to take my daughter to school; she can get the education I want for her here in Redwood City in our district, which is what we’ve always been hoping for. I’m really happy about that. I’m in shock, I can’t believe it,” said Rocketship parent Dennis Aguilar, a long-time Redwood City advocate.

“We’ve met with pretty much everybody on the board, we’ve gathered parents together, talking with them, teaching them and helping them understand everything that’s going on. This is a very good opportunity to give our kids a better future. It’s not for us; it’s for them. We spoke out, and this is the result. It’s great,” he said after the vote.

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Student Julissa Hernández shares with the RWC School Board how she believes Rocketship and Kipp will help her get on the path to college.

Parents partnered with Rocketship, KIPP and Innovate Public Schools to create a grassroots movement to bring great school options to the Redwood City community.

“We wouldn’t be opening a school in Redwood City if parents hadn’t organized and come to us,” said Rocketship’s Co-Founder Preston Smith. “These courageous parents came together, recognizing they have the power to create change in their community. Tonight, they prevailed.”

The Redwood City School Board’s two unanimous votes in favor of Rocketship and then KIPP opening schools in 2015 is a powerful sign of collaboration, one we’re really excited about. While members of the Board expressed some doubts, they acknowledged parents should be heard.

“I don’t believe in privatizing education,” said Trustee Shelly Masur. “But I do believe in listening to families…I prefer to start off a relationship on a positive note.”

Building a true partnership with Redwood City, like the one developing in the Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose, is our ambition. We’re on the same team working towards the same goals. This is a win for parents, for Rocketship, for KIPP and for Innovate — but most importantly this is a win for kids in Redwood City.

“I was waiting for this approval, working for two years, I cannot believe it. I’m very happy. Working together is the best way,” said parent leader Gudelia Ornelia, mother of three. “I need this school for my kids.”

Take a moment to send a thank you e-mail to the Redwood City Trustees for their leadership and support of more great ⬇ school choices for parents. ⬇

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