In 2011, Richard Wang met Lisa Kunze. Both are parents with children in the Santa Clara Unified School District. The two wanted a network that would allow district parents to communicate with each other. Hence, Santa Clara Unified Parents (SCUP) was born.
“At that time, the district was hiring a search firm for the next superintendent,” says Wang, president of SCUP. “We wanted to exert our opinion on what the school district should be looking for. The district wanted our input. I started the Yahoo group and we had a bunch of people join right away.”
“The benefits of being part of SCUP has been connecting with other parents, hearing about what’s going on at other schools, getting information about what’s going on in the district, and becoming involved with the district science fair,” says membership director Kunze. “I like to see parents become involved in supporting their schools and their district.”
A number of SCUP parents became involved in supporting their schools when the district was hit with budget cuts a few years ago.
“A group of six or seven of us in SCUP made a trip to Sacramento in 2011 to try to lobby for a bill to get the parcel tax passed,” Wang says. “I would like to think that SCUP played a very significant role in getting the word out for campaign support.”
In May 2012, voters approved Measure A, the parcel tax measure. When former superintendent Bobbie Plough referred to her work advocating for the parcel tax measure in her retirement interview with the Santa Clara Weekly, she said, “The parcel tax is projected to generate more than $2 million each year for five years.”
In the same month that voters approved Measure A, SCUP organized its first district science fair.
“The science fair doesn’t require a lot of money to run, but it takes a lot of manpower, and it gave us the opportunity to come in and save the event,” says Wang, referring to the reasons the science fair was cut from the district budget years ago. “This requires a lot of volunteers, which we had access to. It gave us a chance to plant our flag, give our organization some legitimacy.”
What also makes SCUP a valuable resource for members is its board meeting summaries, written by another parent member. Also, the organization is striving to conduct outreach to the parent community within the school district and recruit more members from schools that are not yet represented in the organization.
“I have a daughter who is in third grade at Don Callejon School,” Wang says. “I hope to feel proud someday that I created a platform that allows parents to continue communicating with each other long after I’ve left the district or after my daughter has left the district.”
Currently, there are over 260 members in SCUP. To be a member, one must be a parent with a child enrolled in the Santa Clara Unified School District. Membership is free. Visit http://www.scunifiedparents.org/ for more information.