I have made no secret about all I believe to be wrong with education. I also make no excuses for sometimes perpetuating that that is broke with education by being an educator, a wife to an educator and a parent of children in school. I am sure there is some blame there that should be tossed my way. However, there is an anomaly here that I wonder if it exists everywhere or if it is just a local thing.
That is the shuffling or irritation at active and involved parents. What I consider active and involved parenting to mean is taking a vested interest in your children’s education by fostering and maintaining a parent/teacher relationship, being a part of the school community through PTO, PTA or volunteering however you possibly can. Does that mean I think everything gets set aside so you can be that pushover pain in the ass that every teacher/principal/education administrator hates because you really do make their jobs harder.
I also am not clueless to the fact that I am an educator and that my presence in another teacher’s domain brings about an awkward sometimes intrusive feeling. I always try and keep the teacher side of myself out my kiddos classrooms. My purpose is to be a parent in that moment. Once last year I stuck my head out because huge, and in my opinion, damaging decisions were being made about my daughters reading/writing that I could just not accept without my opinion being heard. I voiced it as respectfully as I could and made it known it was merely my own opinion as a mother backed by my own experience as an educator, but that I would respect the school/teacher’s decision regardless.
The few times though that I have reached my hand out in hopes of open communication and not even necessarily about overly important educational issues I feel like my hand gets smacked. It is met with defensiveness, cockiness and irritation. It is aggravating and disheartening to feel like you cannot work with the very people you admire and respect because of what they are going through in the world of money and politics and the sheer fact that they spend their lives with the “littles” of the world. A job I know I could not do for sure.
My question is this though? Why? Remember the days when Little Johnnie screwed up at school and made a poor decision and he knew when he got home the crap was going to hit the fan. It was going to because Mrs. Smith, Johnnie’s teacher, already called Mom and Dad and they will be holding him accountable. Those days don’t exist anymore do they? Mrs. Smith and Mom and Dad had an unspoken deal. We are going to “together” push little Johnnie to be the best little Johnnie he can be. That means we have to have open lines of communication and hold him accountable always.
Nowadays I guess most parents don’t care enough to even learn their kid’s teachers name. I can say that with some merit. I am an active parent. I hand out paperwork, fund raisers and the first question always is…”Who is your child’s teacher?” Which more times than I care to admit is met with a head scratch. I sit at that PTO meeting every month and again am a witness to the lack of parental caring.
Now I worry teachers and administrators are so jaded by the lack of caring that when a parent does speak up and does care that parents are then met with reservations on how to deal with it. Maybe even thinking, “We have managed this long to operate without a parent’s input, why start now.” Now I want to preface this by saying all my daughters teachers have been so open to me and my willingness to help. So I am not calling anyone out. I am just shocked at how often when you travel outside that teacher/parent circle that it is met with friction. At times, it feels like the educational process in k-12 public would run smoother without parental involvement. Do I believe that? Heck no. Do I think others do? Maybe.
The educational system did not fall apart in one day and it won’t be rebuilt in one day. In the meantime, parents that are trying to care are being shoved out in fear of “something”. That something I am not sure it has a name. Parents that do care are leery of caring too much and being one of “those” parents. Those parents being ones that care about the education of their children and their community. Administrators are trying to keep politicians happy so they have their needs met. Often drawing in the biggest salaries and least effected by the money cutting decisions.
And worst of all being hurt….teachers and students. Teachers are losing hope in the middle of this all. They are losing jobs, livelihoods, home, spirits, morale and classrooms. Those students… they are losing all of the above because the rest of us adults in the real world cannot seem to get our shit together and work with one another to protect the education of our children.
If we won’t look seriously at what is wrong with education from administrators, to teachers, to parents and maybe even to students then how can we even begin to fix it. We all need to come to the party with our prides and ideologies checked at the door and let go of all our egos that we know what is best and figure out what is best for all of us collectively.
John Lennon certainly had a few things right? “Imagine”