Reinventing Edison

GLENDALE — Three years ago, Edison Elementary School was in a government designation for schools where academic achievement is not growing rapidly enough, or at all.

Now that the campus has emerged with successful and growing academic performance, the latest iteration of Edison Elementary is what happens when parents and staff work together toward a common goal, they said.

After three years of planning, meetings and organizing, the school formalized a Parent Teacher Assn., the school's first in years, outgoing Principal Kelly King said.

"This year was literally the perfect storm," she said. "We had California Distinguished School [award], Title I achieving school [award], and we've became an international Spanish academy. Three years ago it … all of our efforts were focused on academic interventions. As the test scores increased, it really opened us up to have more time to focus more time on other activities, such as parent-community outreach and ultimately creating a PTA."

With a PTA in place, parents with children in the school's dual language program can unite with families in typical classrooms, said the group's president, Minette Coye-Garcia. Parents can organize and advocate more efficiently, she added.

"We wanted to make a point about doing things for the whole school and planning things so we include everyone," Coye-Garcia said. "I think it just means that we want to have great results for our kids, and we're showing that by trying to create a foundation and officially having a PTA with great members."

Edison Elementary went from no PTA to 63 charter members, said Lynn Miyamoto, the outgoing president of the Glendale Council PTA.

"It was really much more than we expected," she said. "These parents, they are very enthusiastic. They want to know what's going on not just at the local level, but at the state level."

Parent-teacher associations are independent from school and district staff, but they oftentimes work closely. The mission is to advocate for children, Miyamoto said.

They adhere to bylaws and are one piece of a network of PTAs that reach across the country.

"You have to make sure someone's getting your taxes filed and comply with all those things," Miyamoto said. "If any school wanted to, we'd probably do the same process at Edison."

But the PTA's ascent at Edison was fueled in part by overwhelming parent activism this year, Coye-Garcia said. Parents attended Glendale Teachers Assn. rallies last spring, as well as an informal network who organized on Facebook to speak out against larger class size and 66 teacher layoffs.

"There's definitely a connection," Coye-Garcia said. "That momentum, that activism, I really feel it's the parents saying we can do more."

King said the groundwork for the PTA started well before this year's budget crisis.

"Because of the nature of our parents, because they are so involved and organized and willing take to those leadership roles, I think that's why a PTA was a natural outgrowth, as well as their involvement in the district issues that are going on," she said.

The PTA will organize fundraisers, facilitate events and boost involvement at Edison, King said.

"When they're not comfortable going to the school or the principal or the office, they have a parent group willing to help," she said. "It's a win-win."

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