Parents...always invited last to the party?
I'm really worn out. Feeling downtrodden. On the one hand, I am thrilled to have been selected to represent Kentucky at the first annual Parenting MomCongress as a delegate and honored to go to Washington DC, meet all the other amazing moms (a shout out to Jennifer, Yolanda, Tonjia,Dena, Luanne, Carrie, Christine, to name a few and those who I didn't name will not hold it against me) from across the US as well as meet Arne Duncan, Susan Kane, Lily Eskelsen, Carol Evans, Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner, David Markus, Melinda George, Deanna Hoelscher, Dana Carr, Greg Toppo, Michael Alison Chandler, Byron Garrett, Kim Davenport, Carol Rasco, Carolyn James, and Elanna Yalow. These names should ring loud bells and our elected officials in Frankfort should be excited that a parent is going to represent. That a parent will be engaging in critical and crucial conversations about parental involvement. That these very important educational leaders and those that connect others with education, find that speaking to parents is a valuable learning experience. Unfortunately...not so much. As of late I have become more concerned for the lack of voice that parents seem to have in the discussions concerning the education of our children. It is great in a twitter (or is it a tweet) to say, hey, just came from this great meeting about the future of education with teachers, administrators, etc. but no where is it acknowledged that PARENTS, that's you and me peeps, are NOT being included in the conversation. I flashback to that press conference with Gov. Beshear (and btw I was sent an email stating it was a Town Hall about the new direction of education in the Commonwealth) where I had to ask why parents weren't included on the task force...so thankfully, we managed to get invited (although it was like being the "uncool" kid whose mom has to call the "cool" kid's mom and ask for an invite to the party) to the discussion. Well today at a critical meeting...parents as stakeholders were left out of the conversation. Who knows better how our children learn than we do? We know if our child is ready for kindergarten. We know if they are a visual or spatial learner, if they will need extra time for a task. So why don't you ask us about what our children need in school. My sons will do well on the upcoming assesment tests. They have a knack for the fill in the bubble tests that I, alas, do not. Does that mean they are any smarter than their classmates who struggle with the test? NO. It just means they are able to process and relate information differently. Does it mean that their school or their teachers have failed if they don't do well on a test? Hmmmm. I think the fact that a student is perhaps considered "transitional" (ie homeless) or having switched schools three times in a year, or not knowing if they will have dinner, or having a family in crisis (divorce, foreclosure, etc) might be bigger factors in the performance on a test that what the school or teacher has done. And a parent can still be the absolutely most engaged parent in the world, but these issues can be overwhelming and can impact that connection with their child.
For example, ask Jonah a basic question about his day that could take two sentences to discribe and you will sit with him forever because he is not comfortable in that type of situation. Ask him to write about it, and wow! A creative, witty, insightful discourse will take place. Seth will hit the highlights, then he's done. Question asked, question answered. But watch him create a webpage or movie, awesome. So, how is a teacher to teach to 28 totally different and unique individuals with different learning skill sets? Why not ask their parents? Why not collaborate with their families? So why are parents, the people with whom the children who our elected officials wish to educate, and with whom these children spend the largest portion of their time with, why are they absent from the conversation? I am tired of hearing, we can't get parents to get engaged. Really? Really. It seems as if there are 50 other women from across the US who are engaged. And they will be with me in DC. I bet they can look on their facebook page and find at least 50 other people (parents, aunts, uncles, friends, so on) who are engaged, and they can find 50, who can find 50 more...so my thought is this: why are we the forgotten part of the equation? Or wait, the oft maligned part of the equation. Time and time again PTA is told, where are these parents? I say, have you gone out the car rider line to say good morning? Have you made a phone call, written a note or email? Have you invited them into the classroom? I know a great many teachers who have phenominal parent support in their classroom, and have that support year after year. Perhaps it is the way that they ask for parental involvement, approaching it as a partnership. I also know an equal amount of teachers and schools that struggle with getting parents to step in and help. And I know an equal amount of parents who feel shut out and shut down by the school. We have to stop assuming that each year will be the same. We need to start fresh, and the Governor needs to ask Parents how they feel about the drop out bill, the charter school legislation, the budget cuts to education...because parents will be left to deal with the decisions, NOT just the schools. So when you cut the budget in Frankfort and don't fund early childhood education you are hurting my daughter. When you cut the budget and don't fund for textbooks, gifted/talented, and professional development, you are hurting my sons.
So Hello. I'm Seth, Jonah, and Finn's mom. I'm here for the next 19 years. So I'm already at the party. You just forget to say hello. No time like the present is there?