Parents Have Power
Not only have I come to grip with the fact that there will probably never be a movie made about my life but I am starting to think that my greatest contribution to education will not come from my role as an educator. You see, I am starting to think that the biggest contribution I can make to education is the one I make while wearing my "parent hat". It's the hat I prefer to wear anyway. You see, I won't always be a professional educator but I will always be a parent.
I don't know about everyone else but I am often approached by friends of mine on how they should handle an issue their child is having at school. More often than not at some point in the conversation I will say to them, "Parents have power." A group of parents can get things done in a school faster than any teacher or politician.
When it comes to the issues that matter in education like poverty, standardized testing, teacher/school evaluation, funding, equity, and the digital divide, just to name a few, it is going to take a collective push from students, parents, and educators. Of all the great contributions Will Richardson has made to education I think one of his greatest accomplishments was the day he and his wife opted his son out of his state test.
I have hope that we can improve education. I just think it's going to take more than just educators to fix it. We have got to get students and parents involved in this. Those of us who still have children in schools have the unique opportunity to attack our issues from two different fronts. We can't be afraid to put on our parent hat and demand a better education for our own children. I hope my sons, as they get older, will work towards improving education as students.
This is not to say that teachers who don't have kids or who have kids that are out of school are not making a difference. Obviously it is going to take all of us if we are going to see the change I think we all want to see.
Parents have power. I think it's a power we don't tap into enough in education. As teachers I think we sometimes fear parents. As parents who also happen to teach I think we fear we are "biting the hands that feed us". We have to got to get parents involved in this fight for education on a larger scale. As a parent/educator I have got to push myself beyond twitter and blog post. If all I ever do is tweet and blog about what I dream education can be but never fight for it, what good am I doing?
This is why I moved my kids to a different school last year. The school they were at was a good school but it wasn't the right fit for my kids. I had to get over my fear of the possibility of the people I work with being insulted and do what was right for my kids. This is why my wife and I are talking about opting my oldest out of the state test. I think they're harmful to education and they don't tell me anything about Micah that his teachers don't tell me on a weekly basis. All it's been used for is to inaccurately grade my kids' school and to help foster a competitive, non-collaborative, school culture. There is work to be done and we must work together. I'm sorry, but I don't think who gets elected next month is going to change much in the world of education.
Educators, what can we do to help get more parents and students informed and involved in this fight? Parent/educators, do you face some of the fears I have talked about? How do you leverage your dual role to improve education in your city?
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