JerriLynn Patriquin is a mother of four in Ocean Springs, MS. She is a long-time advocate for Mississippi’s public schools. She actively engages with legislators and other policy makers on matters of public education on a regular basis. JerriLynn responded to questions from the Mississippi Education Blog about her advocacy. The answers that follow are her own, very inspiring, words.
Why is public education advocacy important to you?
Public education advocacy is extremely important to me for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I am the parent of four children who are products of Mississippi public schools, specifically, the Ocean Springs School District (A-Rated) on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Two of my daughters have graduated—one as a Mississippi Scholar in the top 13 percent of her class. While at OSHS, she had the opportunity to be part of their fine arts program in both band and choir. My oldest daughter has special needs and
I believe that public schools hold the highest and best standards and programs where students with IEPs are concerned.
My youngest two daughters are still students in the OSSD, and are thriving in both fine arts (band) as well as honors and gifted classes. I believe that our public schools can and should be providing not only academics, but a well-rounded education, filled with diverse opportunities for growth of the whole child. Furthermore, I was born and raised in Mississippi–this is my home state, and more than anything, I would like to see our public schools prosper, the results of which would improve our standing among other states in many areas: economic, socio-economic, welfare, obesity, teen pregnancy, drop-out rates, among others. Lastly and most importantly, 90 percent of Mississippi’s school-aged children attend public schools!
It is important that each and every child, NOT just mine, are able to attend schools which are safe, efficient, and effective.
What do you want parents to know about public education issues?
The most important thing parents should realize, is that their school district may not and most likely does not reflect what is going on across the state. Like individual people, districts vary (resources, cultural diversity, size, just to name a few). So many times, parents look around (with small, short-sighted lenses) their district and think “ok, we are good…everyone else must be too.” There are many more issues affecting your school district than you may actually realize–and there are definitely MORE districts than yours that are NOT OK.
The BEST way to affect change for schools is to step outside your own area and see what other districts/teachers/admins are facing.
Become involved in your school and become interested in others. The internet makes that possible, but our minds must be open to the concept that the grass may not be nearly as green a few miles down the road.
A culture of apathy could be potentially devastating for our state as we strive to make progress to improve ALL K-12 schools.
How can parents get involved in advocating for public schools?
The first and possibly easiest way is to ask your child’s teacher or school principal. There are also many advocacy and networking groups available through the internet and through social media.
The Parent’s Campaign (dot org) is an invaluable resource for great information on how schools are performing and how your local representatives are voting on certain education-related issues. On Facebook, there is a growing community of support within the group “FedUpWith50th,” a group primarily focused on gaining support for full funding of MAEP— it is a great community of “believers in public education!”
Lastly, search for your local Mississippi Legislators (both House and Senate) and take the time to send a quick email to tell them that says, “I support public schools in Mississippi!” and ask them what their plan is to see that Mississippi’s Public Schools become robust and strong in ALL our communities!
Please join the Mississippi Education Blog in thanking JerriLynn for her passion, commitment, and hard work for Mississippi’s public schools. Also, let’s congratulate JerriLynn on being recognized with this honor.
The Mississippi Education Blog recognizes individuals who are advocating for Mississippi’s public schools. Everyday Advocate will be a weekly feature that will showcase individuals who are making a difference in Mississippi’s public schools. We hope that this feature will encourage those working to move Mississippi’s public schools out of 50th place to continue their work. We also hope that this feature will inspire others and give them the confidence to step up for Mississippi’s public school students.
Complete the form below to nominate an advocate. The advocate will be asked three to four questions about their commitment to public education in Mississippi and be required to submit a photograph.