Parent Institute for Quality Education Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

By Mario A. Cortez

What started out as two community leaders tackling low academic performance at Sherman Elementary here in San Diego has evolved into a statewide program that has fostered student success and engaged parents in the education of their children.

This Friday, Dec. 1, the Parent Institute for Quality Education, known as PIQE, will celebrate 30 years of family empowerment and student achievement with a special ceremony at Sherman Elementary.

PIQE began in October of 1987 after Alberto Ochoa and Vahac Mardirosian began to feel concern over low academic performance among San Diego’s Latino students, especially those at Sherman Elementary.

With help from Tom Payzant, then-Superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, Ochoa and Mardirosian began to hold meetings with parents to address why their children were not doing well in school.
Through two questions for parents, “Why do you think students in this school are performing so poorly academically?” and “What is going on at home, at school or in the community that might be contributing to this situation?”, Ochoa and Mardirosian set out to find how to address the problem of low student performance.

What was meant to be a two-hour discussion evolved into a nine-week course, which brought over 80 families to discuss the subject and learn how to become involved in the education of their children. Parent input then lead the discussion and parent course to be brought to more schools so other parents throughout the District can become more involved.

Since then, PIQE has been at the forefront of efforts to push members of the community and schools to reach for higher goals, create greater access to opportunities.

PIQE President and CEO David Valladolid stated this week that “PIQE has accomplished all its successes due to the determination, hard work and unrelenting commitment of its Board of Directors and its incredible staff.”

Valladolid is also a founding member of the San Diego Chicano Federation and a long-time community activist.

Since 1987, PIQE has reached over 642,000 parents through its nine-week parent academy, which has been held in 16 languages, with a positive impact on the education of nearly 2 million children. In California, PIQE currently helps parents in 36 counties and on a nationwide level has a presence in 14 states through their Best Practices model.

Studies analyzing PIQE’s impact, conducted between 2003 and 2014, have shown that children of parents who have graduated from PIQE’s flagship program report fewer disciplinary problems, such as truancies.

More importantly however, parents who graduate from the nonprofit’s parent academy report a 93 percent high school graduation rate among their students, with 79 percent of these going into a higher learning institution.

“High school is not the end, and although we know there are a lot of children that don’t go to college, we want to let them know that college is always an option,” said Valladolid in an earlier interview with La Prensa San Diego.

At Friday’s anniversary celebration, families which have participated and graduated from PIQE’s programs will be honored for their efforts. San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez is scheduled to be present at the event to speak about the impact that PIQE’s programs had on his parents, which ultimately had a positive impact on Alvarez’s academic opportunities.

The event will be held at 6 p.m. at Sherman Elementary’s school auditorium.

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