The Yakima City Council has renewed their commitment to dignify parents by a 7-0 vote of approval for a proclamation in honor of National Parent Leadership Month. Although first passed in February of 2022, the council’s re-commitment to the proclamation is a milestone for Yakima parents and a powerful example for all cities, counties and school boards across our state. The text can be found on page 5 of the January, 24th Study Session agenda on the city’s website.
CITY OF YAKIMA P R O C L A M A T I ON
WHEREAS, communities across the country honor and celebrate parents throughout the month of February, which has been designated National Parent Leadership Month; and
WHEREAS, National Parent Leadership Month was initiated by Parents Anonymous® as an opportunity to show appreciation for parents who work to improve the lives of their families, neighbors, and communities; and
WHEREAS, parents do this work by lending their voice to local, state, and national initiatives and partnering with the staff of programs in which they participate; and
WHEREAS, parents are a vital resource in family strengthening and child abuse prevention efforts, and acknowledging their wisdom and contributions is essential not only in February, but all year; and
WHEREAS, meaningful parent leadership occurs when parents gain the knowledge and skills necessary to function in meaningful leadership roles and present a “parent voice” to help shape the direction of their families, programs and communities; and
WHEREAS, the power of parents speaking publicly about their experiences has made, and will continue to make, an impact on the lives of families everywhere; and
WHEREAS, as primary stakeholders, parents are responsible for what and how their children are taught, and how they are brought up; and
WHEREAS, being responsible, parents have the unalienable right to participate in the political process on behalf of the children.
NOW THEREFORE, I Janice Deccio, Mayor of the City of Yakima and on behalf of the Yakima City Council, do hereby proclaim the month of February 2023 as
National Parent Leadership Month
in the City of Yakima.
Dated this 7th day of February, 2023
Janice Deccio, Mayor
Local Yakima parents Anna Jackson and Alicia Urwin, along with Richland school board member and 2024 Washington gubernatorial candidate Semi Bird, proudly received the proclamation at the February 7th city council meeting.
This compelling declaration testifies to the strong leadership of our small town’s current council. By recognizing Yakima parents as the “primary stakeholders” in their childrens’ upbringing, the council is stating the obvious. This truth, however, is all too often ignored by bureaucrats and “experts” who compete with parents’ interests by asserting their political power. Where does this ideological disconnect originate? Could it have something to do with the fact that Washington state law is largely unfavorable to parents?
In our search of the RCW’s for the words “parent,” “parents,” and “stakeholder” we did not find any laws that place parents as the primary or most important stakeholder in their childrens’ lives. Washington state code does not specifically enshrine parenthood as being foundational to society nor does it recognize that parents’ primacy in decision making for their children is derived from the principles of natural law, which are not granted by government nor are they retractable by the government. Could this silence on the subject of primary stakeholdership have left a power vacuum that has attracted other interested parties?
Other groups do contend for primary stakeholdership in children’s lives. For example, WSSDA, the Washington State School Directors Association, actively lobbies our legislators for controlling interest in our childrens’ lives. In 2021 our legislators voted to give WSSDA even more power to influence the public education system by allowing it to appoint ESD superintendents and Board of Education members. This sets up a situation where the superintendents and BOE members are functionally accountable to WSSDA instead of the voters who have children in the school system.
Anna Jackson lives in the West Valley school district. She has concerns over the way that parents are viewed there and the students’ academic scores. She states, “According to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Scorecard, in the districts that stretch across Yakima valley, not one district even hits 50% passing rates in Math or Science. These OSPI scores should catapult the districts in our valley to immediately acknowledge that parents are the primary stakeholders of our children’s learning and a necessary component to helping change the course we are on. Offering parents a seat at the table is vital. Parents are already joining arms outside of school walls. This should be the same within the school walls.”
Semi Bird praised the Yakima city council’s proclamation because it demonstrates that parents and families truly are valued in our community. Jackson’s desire for partnership between parents and educators was re-iterated when Bird stated, “During a time where the National School Board Association would actually seek to label parents as domestic terrorists for trying to protect their children, you are labeling parents as partners in their children’s education and in their children’s upbringing.”
Among the full audience at the council meeting, two other citizens offered public comment appreciating the council’s decision to pass the proclamation. It seems that this proclamation has struck a nerve with Yakima parents who, for various reasons, have felt unheard and unrepresented. At a time when so many people feel that politicians are out of touch with real life, Yakima City Council has shown that, on this topic, they are grounded in reality and responsive to their constituents.
Will the county and local school boards take similar steps to honor parents?