Meanwhile, things stay fairly quiet, which is what bureaucrats generally prefer.
My comments here could be seen as “cynical” or “critical,” but I see them as “realistic.” With realism comes truth. With truth comes knowledge. With knowledge comes power. With power comes change – even if it’s change for just one child. When it’s your child, one child is a lot.
My husband and I have therefore taken control of our daughter’s education. We now know it isn’t enough to just be involved in the school or the classroom; we need to know what she’s learning. We also must have some idea of what she should be learning. When the school curriculum or learning environment fails her, we must fill in critical gaps. This isn’t a game we’re playing. Her future is at stake. Six short years from now, it won’t matter whether we helped out with field trips or cut paper for the class every Friday. What will matter is the knowledge she takes with her to college.
Although several people in this district care about our daughter – most notably her teachers and principal – no one at the district level has expressed even a sliver of interest in what kind of experience she must have had that would lead me to do an intense and focused two-year investigation of public education. To them, I’m sure she’s just a bit of data in a long string of data. I doubt they know who I am. Over two years, I've interviewed three curriculum coordinators, two board members and other sundry district staff. I’ve sat down with district Superintendent Nancy Stowell and asked her pointed questions. I’ve written about Dr. Stowell on my blog and run into her a half a dozen times at various meetings. She still introduces herself to me as if we've never met. Clearly, she doesn’t feel the need to retain any information about me or my concerns.
Over 27 months, I've come to believe I could be brilliant, have the best research, find the most perfect words and fill up school board meetings with the most knowledgeable people – and administrators would still operate as if I don’t exist. If I ever manage to effect positive change in this district, I have no doubt that the minute I turn my back, someone will begin working to erase it.
I have two main goals now:
- Help parents cut through the fake statistics and “edu-speak” so they can see things more clearly.
- Tutor students in math. I looked into earning an education degree, but colleges of education tend to train teachers by using discovery learning methods and reform philosophy. I'm 47 and a college graduate. I get hives at the thought of sitting in groups to hash out simplistic problems I could easily solve on my own. I’ve therefore chosen the math program over the education program.
In these two small ways, I hope to help the children succeed. I yearn for revolution, but perhaps some of the improvement will just have to come one person at a time.
Speaking of “one person at a time,” I received an email from a Spokane parent who is distressed by reform math. Last fall, an elementary-school teacher told her to not teach traditional math to her children. She wrote:
This mother acknowledged, however, that the curriculum in the next grade is also insufficient, so she is tutoring her children in two traditional programs – “Singapore Math” and “Saxon Math.” She expressed concerns about the calculators in the elementary grades and wondered how I felt about it. I told her I’m opposed to introducing calculators in elementary school, that there is no need for it, and that it’s my belief that they interfere with the learning of necessary arithmetic skills. I asked the mother if I could quote from her email, and she said I could:
I couldn’t have said it better.
Please note: The information in this post is copyrighted. The proper citation is:
Rogers, L. (March, 2009). "Your child's education is up to you." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com/