8.03.2011

Checklist-13 days and counting!

So my mantra for the summer has been "education doesn't take a vacation." It really doesn't. For so many of us decisions concerning education budgets in our States and school districts still took place while we were shuttling our children to summer camp, to the swimming pool, to a family reunion. Not only budget decisions, but often times restaffing and restructuring decisions at our schools (here in Louisville we have 18 new principals-well, some are "old" principals moving to a new school, some are really brand new to the profession principals). Our school district even has a new Superintendent, which means new collaborative opportunities within the district as well as a new educational culture. Wow. That can be a lot to take in for a returning parent.

While my State hasn't had to make the tough budget decisions about education that other states have, or even been in the news all that often (or when it has, most of the big news stories are about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Unbridled Learning-Kentucky and how they are being implemented this year...and if you don't know what the CCSS Initiative is...well that's another item you need to go "go to school" about), the stories coming out of Kentucky mean that parents need to be pro-active in this item on their back to school checklist:
  • Becoming Educated about Education
Recently the Kentucky Department of Education released data about the graduation rate...and it wasn't happy news. Less than 77% of Kentucky students are getting their diploma. However, there is certainly a momentum to change that, and parents need to understand that we have a responsibility to increase that number of graduating students (even as the data is discussed in relationship with  No Child Left Behind criteria).  But changing that rate means being engaged in education. Often times we leave the advocating for public education to someone else, especially if our child is a successful student at a successful school. We feel empathy for those parents whose children are struggling, but we don't take action on their behalf. But we need to be proactive rather than reactive. At this point in education, decisions are being made at a National level (Debt Crisis comes to mind) that will impact State and Local decision making about education, particularly what budgets can and cannot support. In addition, if you are in a state that has adopted the CCSS, you need to be aware that this means a change in curriculum and assessments which could change how your child, school, and school district is evaluated according to NCLB and Annual Yearly Progress. Whew!

So, again, 13 days and counting, while you prepare your child for returning to school (or even going to school for the first time) you might want to start becoming educated about school. About how an SBDM (Site Based Decision Making Council-if you have one) works at your school, about the PTA (or other parent involvement/engagement group) and their goals for the year, about what the teachers have been taught to teach so you can support and partner in education, about facilitating better conversations with your school (and the PTA Parents' Guide to Student Success is a great tool to use and share with your school), and about understanding that while there are only 13 days left before school begins, today is a great day to engage with education, because "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" (Lao-tzu).

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