Kansas City Mayor Sly James is exploring a new program to empower parents of school-aged children.
The Parent Leadership Training Institute is a 20-week program that helps attendees track legislation, analyze data and become involved in public policy on behalf of their kids.
James says highly engaged parents help schools function better, but knowing how to participate isn't always obvious.
"So what we’re trying to do with this whole process is to make sure the parents have the tools to engage outside agencies to build partnerships," James told Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up To Date.
He said there's no lobbying effort for kids and he thinks parents could fill that role.
Elaine Zimmerman is the founder of the Parent Leadership Training Institute, which started in Hartford, Connecticut. She says parents have become lost in the political process.
"Parents are the one constituency in this country that have been replaced by agencies and government," Zimmerman said.
Sarah Darmitzel, one of the parents who led the effort to restart Hale Cook Elementary School, says this kind of training would have been useful throughout the battle to re-open the school in 2013.
"We would love to be able to teach what we have learned to many other people in Kansas City, but quite honestly we're all parents and we're limited in what we can do," Darmitzel said.
She says many of the lessons in the Institute's curriculum she had to learn piece by piece.
The program is designed to work around the schedules of parents who work full-time. James hopes to generate enough interest to implement it throughout the city.
Lisa Rodriguez is a reporter for KCUR. Connect with her on Twitter @larodrig.