#FamilyFriday- Parent Engagement Can Help New Mexico Continue to Rise

#FamilyFriday- Parent Engagement Can Help New Mexico Continue to Rise

#FamilyFriday is a weekly series of voices from the field of families and advocates from across the State of New Mexico. Each Friday, a new voice will be posted. If you would like to submit a blog post for consideration of publication, please submit it to Family.Liaison@state.nm.us. Enjoy and share!

Parent Engagement Can Help New Mexico Continue to Rise

Jaylene Haley

Hello! My name is Jaylene, I am wife to my awesome husband of 10 years and I am mom to my 4 school-age kids. I also am a full-time student at Western New Mexico University, majoring in Secondary Education with a focus in English Language Arts.

I began to question why we were #50 for education in the nation as I researched a paper for a class. We moved from a very poor education system that I had seen firsthand the effects of, yet they were much higher in rankings than New Mexico. I did not understand this at all because the quality and competency I saw from my children’s educators and administrators were quite the opposite. I began to ask questions, framing them within what I knew about ESSA, and I had more questions about it. This process of asking questions led me to trying to [find answers to] how and where we could improve education and the legislation surrounding education in New Mexico. This process led me to a few different and amazing people within the Public Education Department. I finally crossed paths with Gloria Ruiz, who is the Family Engagement Coordinator with the Public Education Department. As we spoke about things like ESSA and the steps being taken to improve education in New Mexico, she suggested that I apply for a position [o]n the Family Advisory Board. I was uncertain if this was the direction I wanted to go at the time, because I was already very busy with my own family, and things were only slated to be busier in my next semester of school. I stepped outside of my comfort zone, though and made an interview video about why Family Engagement is important to education; this resulted in being asked to join the Secretary’s Family Advisory board.

One of my current textbooks states, “Active citizen participation is a cornerstone of democratic theory.” I wanted to participate in changing things and I did so the only way I knew how: ask questions. This, at its root, is engagement. I needed to have the information and ability to ask the questions to engage within New Mexico’s education system. Every parent has a strong voice for advocating in their children’s education. However, many parents do not take advantage of this opportunity and I want to change this for my community. “British philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) argued that the power of government comes from the consent of its citizens and that consent is only possible when the citizenry is informed and engaged.” This seems to me that engagement is key to helping change things within our government not only at the state level, but on a national one as well. With the path the nation is taking right now, I believe it is very important to be teaching our students and children how to advocate for themselves against a bully government system. This includes them understanding their civil rights and how to leverage them.

The last month has been a whirlwind of information and revelations into the understanding of the Department of Education’s functions here in New Mexico. Through the Student Family Partnership academy, I was able to learn more of what makes my individual region in New Mexico so awesome and I have gained an appreciation for the process that must be taken to approve funding for education in New Mexico. I have learned many things about educational law, different programs and initiatives that are seeing great results such as NMTEACH and New Mexico Rising. I feel that if the state of New Mexico can keep the momentum going that has been built in the past 2 years after the new governor and administration is in place, we can begin to see our state rise from the bottom of the educational rankings. This is also contingent on family engagement becoming more prevalent throughout New Mexico, as my fellow cabinet members and myself help raise the awareness that we as parents, family members and educators alike have a voice and we want our kids to have the educational opportunities that they deserve. I hope that by gaining this experience, I can better advocate for my future students, families, school, district and county as I serve as a public educator as well as a mom.

References

Joeseph Losco, R. B. (2017). AM GOV. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

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