Demand soars for Parent Educator Academy amidst turbulent school year

Posted at 3:51 PM, Jan 11, 2022

PHOENIX — Parents are taking action, arming themselves with information and confidence to help their children succeed in the classroom.

It is all part of a program designed to educate, but more importantly, empower families to navigate the public school system.

ABC15 first told you about the Parent Educator Academy back in September 2020. Fast forward to present day and Liz Gonzales is a proud graduate of the 10-week online course.

Gonzales works in professional development for teachers but says being on the parent side, with a son in kindergarten, has been a whole new experience.

“I want to be the best supportive parent I can be, especially with everything going on in the world right now,” said Gonzales. “I was so inspired by all the information they gave us and all the resources that I wanted to share that with all of my community.”

Gonzales recently started a parent-teacher association at her son’s school and plans to pursue a superintendent position.

For All in Education executive director Stephanie Parra, it is an ideal outcome.

“They might only know that their child has a teacher and a principal,” said Parra. “The more folks that are engaged in knowing how the education system works, the more advocates that we have to make it better.”

The program intentionally targets low-income families and communities of color in Maricopa, Yuma, Pima, and Pinal counties. It has grown from five school districts and 27 parent graduates in Spring 2021 to 10 school districts and 91 parent graduates in December, when 400 people applied for 100 available spots.

The Arizona Department of Education recently invested $1 million in COVID-19 relief funds to the program to help meet the exploding demand.

“PEA really taught us, you know ‘Si Se Puede.’ As a parent, as a community, as an organization, we can do it together and we are stronger together,” said Gonzales.

The next Parent Educator Academy is coming up in March. The academy's website offers more information, as well as a way to apply.