Why We Should Cry for Change in Education, Part 4

10 Jun

OK, so I was just skimming the previous three posts on education and I figure I better keep the momentum going — I don’t get my dander up all that often!

Here’s a virtual pat on the back and a hip, hip, hooray to a parent writing a guest column for CNN.com this week:

In “Reformers, please listen to what parents want for schools,” parent Helen Gym of Philadelphia does what I wish more parents would do: She seeks out the latest information on education reform from reliable sources (not blowhards on talk radio, for instance), digests the information and relates it to her own kids and the school they attend, then synthesizes that information into direct recommendations that make a whole lot of sense. I congratulate Gym on this sincere effort of parent involvement, with a capital I.

The writer is founder of Parents United for Public Education, and I like many of her thoughts. By the way, it does take a village to not only raise but also to educate a child. Let’s not leave all the decisions on reform to highly paid education consultants and the legislators that they happened to connect with. Teachers AND parents have a voice. I wish I would have heard a bigger smattering of constructive comments on education in general from parents when I was a public school teacher.

Gym cautions against evaluating schools only by measurements on such things as teacher performance and standardized tests; instead, look at the aspects of school life that have touched families like hers: things like cultural connections, community service projects and kind words from teachers. What integrates school with home life? The answers are important.

The CNN.com column also gets into how parents and educational policy experts are often at odds in their views. For instance, parents ask for smaller class sizes to nurture teacher-child relationships (crucial all the way through high school!), while the policy makers talk about creating efficiencies (meaning bigger classes).

The writer mentions Parents Across America, a national group, and its blueprint for reform. Here’s how she summarizes some of its points:

“Among the suggestions: Address the dramatic inequity in resources within and among school districts so we can maintain smaller class sizes and early childhood programs. Create strong, effective support for teachers, provide a rich well-rounded curriculum, and create multiple ways to evaluate teaching and learning. Make parental involvement meaningful and include roles for governance.”

Well said. Here’s the link to the whole column:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/06/08/gym.schools.parents/index.html?hpt=hp_bn8

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