The Parents Advocacy Network is an independent group of parents who are working together to advocate for improving the public schools in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
Many of the founding members of the Parents Advocacy Network have been previously involved with the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), some for many years. When the Board of Education disbanded the grassroots-oriented CAC in September 2011 and created a new CAC with 29 members they hand selected, the group started debating whether there was a need for an independent group to advocate for improvements in our schools.
After conducting a survey in March 2012 in which 91% of the respondents said they would like to see an independent group form to give concerned citizens a voice in the policies of Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the first meeting of the Parents Advocacy Network was held on March 27, 2012. Committees to work on these issues were established:
Challenging All Students: This group will look at how Honors for All is working and will look at best practices outside of Anne Arundel County with the goal of making sure that all students are appropriately challenged. The group will also monitor how the county implements the new Gifted & Talented Regulations recently approved by the Maryland State Board of Education.
High School Start Times: This group will encourage the Board of Education to be part of the Harvard research program studying the impact of high school start times. In addition, they will look for data about how other schools have implemented later start times. The Parents Advocacy Network is a coalition partner of Start School Later, which has gotten over 3,600 signatures on its petition to delay the start of high school in Anne Arundel County until 8:00 a.m. or later.
Special Education: Research has shown that many parents of students with special needs are dissatisfied with the services their children are receiving. The Parents Advocacy Network has put together a list of resources to help parents navigate the school system and get the help their children need.
Achievement Gap: This group wants to define the impact of the achievement gap and understand how it is affected by culture, discipline and economics. They will start by looking for data on drop-out rates.
Bullying: This group plans to study the bullying incident rate by school and see how AACPS’ bullying policy compares to that in other jurisdictions with a goal of reducing the incidence of repeat bullying and providing more resources for victims.
Class Sizes: This group will look at national and international data on the impact of large class sizes and study class sizes in other school systems with an ultimate objective of convincing the BOE that class sizes need to be reduced in some of our feeder systems.
Curriculum Changes: This committee is studying curriculum changes, such as the change in the middle school math curriculum being implemented in the fall of 2012. Parents might also be interested in the new grading policies being implemented this fall, which include some fairly dramatic changes for middle and high school students.
If you are interested in working with a proactive group of concerned parents on these or any other issues, please join us at our next meeting, sign up to receive our email newsletter in the column on the right, like us on Facebook, and join the discussion about these issues on our Discussion Board.