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Upcoming NYC Education Department conferences address parents' leadership role

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The first of three parent conferences seeking to empower parents as leaders will take place in early May, the New York City Department of Education announced on Monday.

The high school parent conference will be held on May 3 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the High School for Fashion Industries in Manhattan. The elementary school conference will be held on May 31, and the middle school conference will be held on June 7.

Sponsored by the DOE and the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, the parent conferences encourage and emphasize parents as leaders and reinforce the role that parents play in their children's academic success. The event will include free breakfast, childcare for children ages 5 and under and on-site interpretation upon request.

The NYC Coalition for Educational Justice is a parent-led collaborative of community-based organizations and unions that aims for a more equitable educational system by harnessing the power of both parents and the community. Its members include parents with diverse backgrounds, community members, students and educators.

At the end of March, the collaborative hosted the Parent Power School, which offers advanced training for parent leaders. The event sought to loop parent leaders into the education justice movement by teaching them about community schools, pre-kindergarten and parent engagement initiatives.

The DOE and Long Island University created the Parent Academy for parents who want their children to get the most out of their public school education. There is one borough-wide or district-wide Parent Academy event every month of the school year. The academy is free of charge and addresses questions such as how to save money for college or how to help a child with their special education curriculum.

Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio stated in a speech at Cooper Union outlining his first 100 days in office that parents needed to be acknowledged as key players in children's educational path.

"We have to focus on parents because too often in recent years, parents were treated as bystanders," de Blasio said. "Let me say as a New York City public school parent myself, we are not bystanders – we are stakeholders."

Those interested in participating in the high school conference can register here. Registration for the elementary and middle school conferences will open soon.