NYC parent coordinators are essential school workers. Many feel undervalued and underpaid

NYC parent coordinators are essential school workers. Many feel undervalued and underpaid

“Family engagement” and “parent empowerment” are not mere buzzwords to Ana Maria Aguilar.

They are her touchstones as parent coordinator at a Brooklyn elementary school, where she sees the faces of her own parents — immigrants from Mexico — reflected in many of the families at drop-off and pickup.

“They come in with such fear. I try to make them feel welcome,” Aguilar said. “As a brown woman, who is also an immigrant, I can relate to their stories.”

That kind of connection drew Aguilar to become parent coordinator at Sunset Park’s P.S. 24 in the fall of 2020, a decision rooted in her desire to give back to her community after losing loved ones to the pandemic. But she found a job remade in many ways by COVID, which caused some parents and students to fear being back in school and ushered in a host of new challenges for staff.

New York City schools created the parent coordinator position 20 years ago as a way to connect families to their children’s schools after then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg assumed control of the nation’s largest school system, abolishing the local school boards that had given parents some direct decision-making power.

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