Much of what I do as an educator is defined by one simple fact: I am the parent of three school-aged children. I don’t blog about them too much (although this post was pretty good, IMHO) because that’s not what this site is about. However, I think of them a lot as I think about trying to improve American education. And today I got to thinking about the challenges of parenting in the current educational climate.
You see, I’m a bit ashamed to admit that on several occasions, I’ve bitten my tongue when I’ve been less than satisfied with my own children’s schooling. I’ll spare you the specifics, but if you’re an educator with school-aged kids, you know what it’s like. You think things like “Should I play the ‘teacher card’ or not?” so as not to panic or alienate your kids’ teachers. It can be a slippery slope.
But why don’t other parents, the non-teachers among us, speak up in defense of their kids’ educations? Perhaps it’s because, as products of the 20th Century educational system, we just don’t know any better. We don’t know that we should
expect demand more. But we should.
You see, I believe this also contributes to what I see as a major educational problem–parents keeping quiet, accepting the status quo, because they trust that schools are doing the right things. Or perhaps because they fear making waves. No parent wants their child to be embarrassed or awkward because mom or dad is “that parent.”
However, unless we as parents speak up more often, unless we make our voices heard when schools are short changing our children or when they are subjecting kids to boring, mundane instruction, we are only contributing to the problem.
Imagine if parents spoke up more often, challenged authority when appropriate, pushed back against archaic practices, and so on. Not in the interest of rabble-rousing. But in the interest of our children. Why should we feel ashamed or embarrassed to make our voices heard? Why shouldn’t we speak up? If more of us spoke up, more often, the rate of change would increase to near warp speeds. Angry parents? Demanding excellence? In large numbers? THAT would be a force to be reckoned with. And there would be no way schools would or could ignore it for long.