Linda England knew she needed a fresh approach to parent involvement when her effort to reinvigorate Peirce’s PTA fell flat. She asked regional leaders to come and speak at the school. “Ladies in their 50s came, with pearls and gloves on. I said, ‘This is never going to fly,'” says England, who was chair of the local school council in 1990.

She, along with Principal Janice Rosales and a handful of active parents, agreed that a better strategy would be to disband the PTA and unify the different parent groups, including one specifically for Hispanic parents, under one umbrella: the Peirce Multilingual Parent Student Teacher Organization.

The next step was to recruit some of the Hispanic mothers to fill leadership positions, England explains, saying it was time for the more privileged Anglo parents “to learn to step back and let other people take charge. That’s how things grow.”

Today the umbrella group includes a number of bilingual members. Besides raising money for classroom supplies and organizing special events, the group serves as a liaison between teachers and parents.

Michael Strening, a 6th grade social studies teacher, says the group raised money to support his sports teams and another teacher’s art program. “If you have any idea, the parents will get behind you. Children’s progress is first.”

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