I have been a part of public education for a very long time. I attended public school, I attended public university, and I taught public school. Public education is a great idea, but as you know, currently it is hurting. The world is exploding over Common Core Standards. I will state my disclaimer here: I am no longer working in a public high school, and I do not have a child in public school, but I do have years of experience on the inside, and I have some thoughts to share.
Parents, know what you are fighting for. I have seen a lot of articles and petitions being passed around on Facebook. That is wonderful. Knowledge is power, and I LOVE finally seeing parents become involved in school. My problem is, a lot of people are in outrage about Common Core, but don’t really know what the standards are. Have you read them? Have you studied them? I’m not saying you should love them, I’m saying you need to know what you are fighting against. If you know, GREAT, you don’t need to tell me. My point is only that you need to know!
Testing. We have WAY too much. I’m with you. I in NO way think that a student’s pass/fail should be based SOLEY on test scores. Should they play a part? Yes. Should they be the only benchmark? No. I have seen the aforementioned articles, heard the cries of parents talking about stressed out children. That makes me really sad. BUT, it also makes me ask, why are they stressed out? What do they know? High School kids need to know the weight of these tests. They can handle the pressure. Third graders cannot. My question is, why do they know? Who has told them? Teachers, I know you are WAY overworked, overstressed, and underpaid. I’ve been there. I get it. But, surely you are not telling these third graders they have to pass the test to move to the fourth grade. Parents, I know you are worried. Reading is tough, and especially if you have a student who struggles at reading, it can be stressful, but surely you haven’t told your third grader the weight of this test. Will it make a difference? Will they perform better? These tiny students cannot handle that pressure. Work with them, get them remediation if needed, but don’t tell them what this test could do to them. It will not help them take the test, it will only hurt them.
Kindness. First, be kind to your teachers. They are more stressed than you are. Second, be kind to your children. They don’t need to know the political side to education. That is your job. Protect them from the things they can’t handle or process. Third, fight the good fight. Don’t complain on Facebook, or organize riot sessions in your living room. Talk to those who can do something about it. While we are working on changing things, your job is to support your child. Don’t let them hear you talk about it. They simply need to go to school, know it is safe, and that their teachers are doing the best for them, and know that they are capable of learning anything. The more they hear you complain about school, the less they will feel comfortable or capable there. Taking pictures of your child crying doing homework is helping no one. It may make your point to your friends, but it is not helping your child. Your child should walk through the double doors every day and know they can do anything that is asked of them, even if it is difficult.
Change is hard. I get it. This is not how we learned. They are changing the game on us, but please know what you are dealing with. This will not last. It will go away at some point. If you look back on educational legislation you will see a long line of things that have come and gone. Do what you can to be an advocate for your children and your students. Tell them only what they need to know and can handle. I understand having stressed out teachers and parents, but we don’t need stressed out kids.