Parent Worker University
The UCLA Labor Center has been conducting surveys and community-based field research with the newly established Labor and Education Collaborative for Low-Wage Worker-Parents and K-12 Education Reform in Los Angeles. The mission of the collaborative is to bring union and community worker-parents together with union and community leadership to improve members’ children’s educational opportunities. The Labor and Education Collaborative, UCLA Labor Center, UCLA IDEA, and UCLA Public Interest Law Program have partnered to better understand the educational issues facing union members’ children. When viewing low-wage union households, findings show that members are residentially concentrated in low-income primarily Latino and African American neighborhoods near high schools that disproportionately suffer from a shortage of qualified teachers, overcrowding, and insufficient college preparatory courses. In these high schools less than one half of entering students graduate.
These outcomes do not match the high aspirations and expectations that worker-parents have for their children and of their children’s schools. For worker-parents to build a strong force for education reform, the Labor and Education Collaborative has been supporting the “Parent Worker University,” where parents attend workshops to become better informed about how the public school system functions and how resource inequalities affect their children’s education.
The UCLA Labor Center recently completed telephone surveys with several unions' members to find out more about how unions can become involved in this quality of life issue for workers’ children. UCLA students minoring in labor and workplace studies assisted with this research to gauge members’ interest in having unions involved in education reform. Ultimately, the goal of this collaborative is to empower union and community parents to lead the fight for quality public education.