I was recently asked to contribute my "resolutions" about advocacy to Parenting magazine's Mom Congress blog. It is clear that I, along with my fellow delegates, plan on continuing to be engaged in advocacy, whether it is speaking up about local issues concerning healthier school lunches, literacy, early childhood education, and volunteerism, or just being more physically engaged and present in our child's life. After reading all the contributions, it is also obvious that we won't be getting much rest in 2012.
And as I ran on the treadmill today my "college instructor" persona took over and I began thinking about what exactly "Resolution" means. The pre-fix "re" is used with the meaning "again" or "again and again" to indicate repetition. Solution is a noun, in which we have a means of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation. A "resolution" is a firm decision to do or not to do something. So for me, resolution means that I will, again and again, find a means to solve a problem, and make a decision to do something.
And because I am already "resolved to be involved" I don't actually have to make a resolutions list. For instance, I'm not going to stop being an advocate to have families engaged in every level of education. I'm not going to stop reading about education policy and urging other parents to do the same. I'm not going to stop making phone calls to school board members, or state leaders, or national leaders on behalf of not only my own children, but the children in my educational community. I'm not going to stop volunteering in my community, or encourage others to do the same. I'm not going to stop sharing what I learn about playground/recess advocacy as a KaBOOM! volunteer, or as a community ambassador for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life, or as a delegate for Mom Congress.
So, again and again, I will be trying to find solutions to better assist my community achieve successful educational attainment for all students. I will be traveling to connect with others who are also seeking those solutions. I will be writing about what I learn in hopes that it will help others to connect. I've certainly read enough "2011 in review" and "what 2012 will bring us in education" blogs, articles, and so on to know that change, for good or for bad, is definitely on the horizon (and think my friends Dr. Meryl Ain in a recent post as well as Principal Joe Mazza on his efacetoday blog address these concerns as well). I know that we must do better to set aside our differences and put children's needs first. I know that as a nation we need to have crucial conversations with everyone about transforming educational opportunities so that every child has an opportunity to participate in quality educational opportunities. I want all the "leaders" in education reform to sit down and listen. To stop posturing and preening. To actually engage parents and community members in a conversation instead of just talking about parents and community members and saying that they are speaking on my behalf. I am certainly able to speak for myself if you would take the time to listen. I would like these same "leaders" to stop dismissing the voice of a parent: just because I haven't written a book, been on a talk show, or had a blog published by the Huffington Post doesn't mean I don't have knowledge or experience that wouldn't be a valuable contribution to the discussion. After all, I am on the front lines: I have the most to lose if education reform and education policies fail to deliver. My children and their classmates will lose if we don't stop showing off our tail feathers and trying to be the "one."
Let's be honest. Parents are in the classrooms right alongside their child's teachers every single day. We cut out paper hearts and shelve books in the library. We serve on numerous committees and help raise much needed funds. When was the last time any of our "ed-reform" leaders actually stepped inside a classroom and volunteered? And while I have certainly spent much, if not all, of 2011 being a part of many a discussion (or debate) about what is needed in education (digital/on-line learning opportunities, teacher evaluations, to NCLB or not...) I also do what needs to be done without having to be asked.
My hope for 2012? That more people will "resolve to be involved" in education-by going "back to school" and learning more about what everyone is discussing. But also by literally going back to school, and helping in a classroom or at a school. By connecting with their school community. Because "It is always in season for old men to learn" (Aeschylus).