Who is PPS-GK?

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A brief history
– We’re just getting started!

Our members are parents, grandparents, teachers, alumni and supporters of public schools in Kalamazoo County who believe that high-quality, accessible public schools are a cornerstone of our communities and our democracy.

Many organizations, foundations and community groups are engaged in efforts to strengthen and support the children in our county. PPS-GK is different. We are parent-led, parent-created, parent-driven, and we work county-wide.  PPS-GK is focused on addressing issues that are identified as priorities by our member parents. From school climate to transportation to parent recruitment, PPS-GK is designed to take on parent concerns, but we can only do that with your help. Together we will work to ensure that all of our children receive the high-quality, public education that they deserve. 

Parents for Public Schools: 20 years of advocacy for America’s public school children

For more than 20 years, Parents for Public Schools® has worked to improve public schools by educating, engaging and mobilizing parents across the country.  Founded in the capital of Mississippi, a state beleaguered by racial and economic divisions, a committed group of parents put their collective weight behind their public schools by refusing to engage in the “white flight” so prominent at the time. By enrolling their children in the local public schools and demanding higher standards and better resources for all students, this group created a movement. After the formation of Parents for Public Schools of Jackson, other cities expressed interest in the movement, and the National Office of Parents for Public Schools was founded in Jackson in 1991.

Soon the organization represented the diversity of the state and the nation, as parents of all races and backgrounds rallied around the idea that excellent public schools should be a fundamental right and that an informed citizenry upholds our democracy in the United States.

PPS created a “new brand of parent involvement” which elevates the role of parents in public schools from passive consumers to active participants. PPS parents raise standards, solve problems and advocate for their community. In short, PPS parents demand excellent schools and have the skills to make it happen.

Over the years, Parents in Waco, Texas, built stronger alliances between the business community and the public schools to great effect; dedicated parents in Pitt County, North Carolina, cut through barriers of race and class to improve schools for all students; Cincinnati parents mobilized to initiate standards-based reform and to dramatically increase attendance rates; and the vocal and organized PPS of San Francisco tackled difficult issues like selective enrollment, media bias and recruitment of new families into the system. What is the common thread in each area? Dedicated, informed parents who want the best public education for their own - and all - children.

Today, national PPS accomplishes work through three main vehicles:

  • A network of community-based chapters located throughout the countrythat tackle local issues and represent the voice of parents.
  • A Parent Engagement Program, which empowers parents and provides them with professional training that rivals FORTUNE 500 programs.
  • Leadership and empowerment training for like-minded organizations across the United States.

As the first members and current Board of Directors of PPS-GK, we are six individuals who offer our experience, ideas, opinions and beliefs about the value of high-quality public education in our democracy – and in our county’s nine school districts. We’re members of nine different school communities throughout the county.

We believe that all Kalamazoo County’s children deserve access to high-quality public education; we believe that not all of them have that access. Yet. Our best schools need more to serve more children. And we need more of our best schools. We believe that real reform is best accomplished from the inside out, and as parents, grandparents and alumni of public schools we have seen how public schools in Kalamazoo County can work for our children. Many of us are public school success stories.

In a time of slashed state funding, increased privatization of public education, deepening urban and rural poverty, and intense politicization of education policy and practice, we’re ready to work with fellow Kalamazoo residents to find solutions that can strengthen all our public schools, for all our children.