Thank you for your thoughtful comments on the State of Education stats graphic. You brought up great points, questioned conclusions, and looked at the issue from many different perspectives. It’s clear that education has many areas that could use some rethinking and some reworking. It’s a complicated topic and it’s easy to feel like the problem is bigger than we are. But there’s always something we can do to make a difference. Here are just a few ideas:
When we see the many factors that contribute to the struggles in our education system, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Pervasive poverty, lack of parental involvement, insufficient funding, bureaucracy. But if we each find one small way to help, it can make a difference. Hold a book drive to improve the resources at your school’s library. Organize a free vision screening. Offer parent education classes. Tutor one child. Think of how your talents, resources, or connections can help meet the needs in your community. Making a small difference is better than simply complaining and doing nothing.
Volunteer in classrooms and school organizations. This not only helps the school succeed but gives you an inside view of how things are working in your school, and where more help might be needed.
I never wanted to be “that parent”, but when I saw that something was less than adequate for a group of children (not just my own) I made an appointment to talk to the administrator responsible. Remember to be calm, respectful, and offer your thoughts as constructive feedback, not a tirade. When we approach with the right attitude, we’re more likely to get things done. If there’s something that concerns you enough to bring it up during a kvetching session with your friends (or on a blog), take it to someone who can actually do something about it. Meet with teachers and administrators, write to policy-makers, vote. Make your concerns known to the necessary channels in appropriate ways.
Say Something Positive
Don’t just be on the hunt for problems. Be sure to say thank you to the countless people who are doing amazing things for our kids. Inspiring administrators, gifted teachers, and supportive staff hear a lot of complaints, but too little thanks. I have to say that the thank yous I remember most as a teacher were the simple and sincere notes of appreciation that came on a random school day, not just during Teacher Appreciation Week.
If you’re serious about quality education, find an organization that represents your views and add your voice to theirs. Whether that means joining a national organization or your local PTA find a way to take action.
Take Personal Responsibility
As teachers and parents our first responsibility is to the children we love and teach. We may not be able to change the whole system, but we can each do our best with our own personal stewardship. For some parents, that leads them to the conclusion that they should consider private or home school. All parents can recognize that even if you send your children to public school, Homeschooling is Not Optional (as I wrote for Motherhood…Your Way). Teachers can make the commitment to teach intentionally and with passion in spite of circumstances that are less than ideal. If we start with our own personal spheres of influence, we can change lives one at a time. And just one life changed for the better is worth the work.
So what do you/will you do to help our children get a good education?
Top photo by barb.howe.