“School” is a highly debatable topic. There is no shortage of topics to pick from when looking for areas of improvement or controversy. In recent weeks, the districts throughout Arizona have been promoting Red for Ed (#redfored). Teachers and parents have been wearing red shirts to promote the inequality in pay and insurance coverage of public school teachers. Many of the schools have staged walk-ins, where the teachers meet, all wearing red, before school and walk into the school as a unified “team”, if you will. Teachers in Oklahoma have walked out, in their effort to draw attention to and show solidarity for increased pay and funding.
Funding has been a nationwide, political hot button for a long time. In an effort to fairly distribute government funds, there has been a growing importance in student’s performance on annual standardized testing. If the students don’t do well, it could impact the school’s status and therefore the funds they receive. I am no expert in any of these details, but I do see the impact it has had on my children in the classroom. They spend class time practicing questions similar to those they’ll face on the test in an attempt to maximize their results.
Speaking of class time, that presents it’s own set of debate topics. You can talk about the structure of the class (do they sit in rows or groups at a table). You can talk about the curriculum, which then adds topics such as Common Core and homework to the debate. You can talk about recess, PE, art and music, all of which seem to be decreasing in time spent with every passing year.
And finally, you have what may be the biggest hot button of them all, at least from a parent’s perspective, Grades. I was curious, so I googled the question and found the 100-point grading scale was first implemented in the late 1800’s at the college level. Is there any tool you will use today that was invented in 1877 and hasn’t been adjusted for life in 2018? Knowing this, it actually should be no surprise we place such an emphasis on grades and success, as it is literally embedded in our DNA. For generations we have linked good grades with future success and now as a result, parents and kids are more stressed out than ever before.
I have grossly over simplified some very complicated and serious issues because to go into detail would require months of research and reams of paper. With so many issues requiring our attention, it may seem overwhelming to ask “Where do we start”? I think that question is actually the easiest one of all to answer. You start with your child. How do they learn best? How do you feed their curiosity so that they are encouraged to learn? What learning environment best fits their personality and strengths? If you are currently in a less than ideal situation, how can you stand up for and advocate for your child?
At the end of the day, I’m just a mom, participating in the current public-school system, cutting out box tops, donating tissues and supplies, trying to do my part to support the teachers that support my kids. I’m also a mom who wants my kids to one day leave school feeling prepared and inspired for the lives they get to create for themselves, after all isn’t that the whole point of going to school in the first place?
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.