Parents are the Solution
Parents of school children are the solution to the issues facing public education. The educational divisiveness in our country centers around loss of local control, erosion of funding, political influences and overall lack of confidence in public education is hurting students. This impact has a compounding effect over time on students future earning potential. The cuts to necessary funding results in larger class sizes, fewer support staff, technology voids and diminished budgets for instructional resources to name a few. If a first grade student experiences reduction of educational services their base knowledge is weakened. This only compounds with successive years of reduced services ensuring when the first grade student graduates they will be at a disadvantage compared to graduating classes that preceded him. The issues are couched in the here and now and not the long-term impact of decisions.
Parents are the solution but it will take effort. In a previous Blog I cited a survey about parent perspectives on the impact of Common Core. What is concerning is the vast lack of information or more likely, understanding, of what influences are impacting the quality of education their child receives. If you are a parent of a child in school you must get informed and involved. Your involvement should start with understanding the curriculum, instructional practices and learning environment your child experiences every day. Seek to understand, ask questions and be an active member of a greater team seeking improvement. Avoid the natural pull towards emotional responses. Show up at the polls! Be sure to fully vet the Board of Education candidates running for election. Dig deeper into their beliefs, qualifications, holistic perspectives, who is funding their campaigns, their relationship building skills and then vote. These civil servants are volunteers and should be commended for entertaining a largely thankless endeavor. Vet those candidates who have a calling to serve students, staff and parents. After you vote, hold them accountable and stay connected with what is being discussed and voted on by your Board of Education. Volunteer to serve on district committees. Connect your neighbors to their schools and the decisions that impact them. Most of all, be civil and model the behavior we expect from our children.
Once you have accomplished these tasks you will have a broader perspective of the great things your school district is doing as well as the areas that need improvement. You will understand that a school district is complex but that complexity will benefit your child. Now you are ready to engage your local Representatives and Senators. Research their positions, beliefs, voting records, level of engagement with local voters and who financed their elections. By doing this you will have a greater understanding and a starting point to begin your ongoing conversations with them. Your legislators have a very complex job as a civil servant just like your Board of Education members. Respect that but also never relinquish your position as the person who put them in office. They work for you and everyone else in their district.
The solution to the issues impacting your child’s education largely rests with your efforts. Be solution focused, civil and most importantly- be engaged for you, as a parent, know what you expect for your child to be academic and socially prepared for the rest of their lives.