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Parents urged to organize to save Youngstown schools

Published: Wed, February 22, 2012 @ 12:06 a.m.


Greg Galluzzo, founder and senior organizer of the Chicago-based Gamaliel Foundation, speaks to a group of concerned parents and residents at the Save Our Schools meeting at Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church in Youngstown on Tuesday night.

By Sean Barron



Key ingredients to improve Youngstown city schools are engaged parents and a commitment to long-term involvement, a longtime community organizer contends.

“If we begin to create a movement between parents, between educators, between churches and between administrators, we can begin to challenge the status quo,” said Greg Galluzzo, founder and senior organizer of the Chicago-based Gamaliel Foundation.

The foundation is a grass-roots network of nonpartisan, faith-based organizations that tries to empower ordinary people to effectively take part in political, environmental, economic and social decisions that affect their lives, its website says.

Galluzzo was the main speaker during Tuesday’s two-hour Save Our Schools meeting at the Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church’s social hall, 7 Garland Ave., on the city’s East Side.

Several dozen parents, teachers, school-board members and others attended the session, hosted by the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods. The gathering was to set the groundwork for a broad coalition to support public education as state budget cuts threaten to undermine it, organizers said.

A major component for positive change is organizing parents, many of whom feel intimidated, powerless and discouraged when dealing with school systems, he noted. Compounding the problem is that some districts don’t want to be forthcoming regarding budgets, test scores, parental input and other matters, Galluzzo continued.

Nevertheless, “I think if parents can organize, they can do anything,” despite inevitable conflicts, disagreements and resistance, he said.

In addition, parents who desire the best education for their children also can take active steps at home, including curbing TV time for their children, providing good nutrition and spending more time with them, he explained.

Galluzzo compared organizing to change many school districts with organizational efforts during the civil-rights and women’s movements, saying that well-organized groups of parents can impact public policy regarding schools in the long run.

That view was shared by Kim Sampson, a staff accountant and consultant for ACTION.

“We want parents to ask for higher standards, and that schools can’t just teach to standardized tests,” Sampson said, adding that carpools and email lists are effective networking tools.

In addition, many area churches offer tutoring and weekend programs aimed at helping youngsters succeed in school, noted the Rev. J. Dwayne Heard, ACTION’s president and pastor of Elizabeth Missionary.

Parents need to be more proactive regarding the betterment of the city school district and create an enhanced learning environment at home, the Rev. Mr. Heard said.


1Westsider(269 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Most parents aren't interested - interesting that fewer than 50 showed up and that included teachers and school board members - so what - about ten parents out of all the children who attend schools on the East Side? Awesome turnout!!!

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2noteworthy2(9 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

Parental support on the for the West Side schools was still very strong until 4 years ago. When Wendy Webb downplayed and refused to do anything about the violence at Chaney, these long time supportive parents bailed. So you can thank Wendy Webb and a do nothing BOE for the lack of suppport.

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3redeye1(5615 comments)posted 4 years, 4 months ago

STOP What do you have against people who work for what they got. Why are you always trying to take money from the workers to give to sleazebags who could work. But they might have to get out bed to do it. I'm starting to think you are one of them

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