Since 2011 DC School Reform Now (DCSRN) has worked to help families in the city’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods find success with school choice and enroll in high-quality schools.
DCSRN’s parent advocates focus on understanding the families they serve and the barriers they must overcome—an approach that requires flexible, one-on-one support. They might help a family understand which high schools their daughter is eligible to attend, overcome a language barrier with school staff, or assist with finding the paperwork required to complete enrollment. No issue is too large or too small for these advocates.
Organizations like DCSRN are an essential part of the educational ecosystem in a growing number of cities. Similar parent-engagement or “navigator” organizations have emerged in cities such as Oakland, Houston, and Boston.
But these organizations rarely have the resources to reach all of the families who might benefit from their services. And we still need to understand how different models for providing these services vary in their effectiveness. These are systemic issues that deserve attention.