So much has been running through my mind this week, the first week of school. M has done pretty well during school, but the meltdowns before and after have been pretty bad. A had a hard time at drop off her first week of preschool but she seemed to enjoy herself, despite the fact that it is a grimly small class. K had a rough start to middle school with being the victim of bullying and not doing so well on a test due to first week jitters. But the one thing that I have been turning over most of all is…
Whose job is it?
Meaning, the success of our children. I am disappointed that this election year I have heard little said about education. I am kind of sick of hearing about AYP and definitely sick of all the testing. I do NOT want my kids taught the test. It is ridiculous. The education system gets worse and I do not blame the teachers or administrators of our schools…it is the government, and the rules made by people who clearly know little about child growth and development who want our country to “look good” on the testing numbers…but don’t want to look at what successful countries like the Netherlands are actually doing. And the schools get money taken away when they already can’t afford all the teachers, aides and materials they need. Teaching tests is like throwing tylenol at cancer. It makes no sense.
But I digress…my point is, teachers, wonderful, gifted teachers, are at risk of losing their jobs because of these tests. They don’t get any credit for having a room full of children with different special needs, or homeless children who are exhausted and hungry. They spend their own money on materials and aren’t given access to the resources they need. Yet some parents want to blame teachers for not being everything THEY want them to be. At one parent meeting this week, some parents were up in arms that recess was being cancelled for middle schoolers due to bullying issues. (Forget that at the local public middle schools there is no recess…) But there are some things a school can not do. They have to choose between more important responsibilities. Yes, children need physical exercise, much more than they are getting. But being safe (physically and mentally) is a more basic and important need.
So when it comes to some of these things…getting enough exercise, eating right, learning social skills or music or whatever the schools have had to cut due to a lack of funding…whose job is it?
Sure, our kids spend a lot of time at school. And sure, teachers get paid (but not much) to teach them. But they are OUR children and ultimately our responsibility. We are their parents, primary care givers, and the ones ultimately responsible for every aspect of their lives. This may mean advocating for them (sometimes they school really isn’t providing what they should). It could also mean helping with homework, signing them up for sports or just making sure the TV is off and they are playing outside. It means taking them to the library and exposing them to the arts. And if you don’t like that the school cut your child’s favorite program, write your senator or support a local organization that provides these experiences for children outside of school. Help out in the classroom or provide materials for the classroom if at all possible.
I realize some parents have to work several jobs and do not have a lot of support. And here’s the thing…while any aspect of a child’s development is ultimately the responsibility of the parent or parents, it takes a village. I hate to be clichè, but it really does. And I’m not sure where the villages are anymore. I know I have found solace in the special needs community, though it has been mostly people scattered and connected online. I also know there are a number of programs to help, but they can be difficult to find or understand if you are not extremely organized. And any government program has miles of red tape! And for every person trying to build up villages to help others, there are many more tearing people down and placing judgement instead of helping. We need to set aside our differences: religion, politics, race, gender, whatever they may be, and just see each other as people who need others to help. Our kids deserve this. Don’t judge a parent if you aren’t willing to step in and help. And don’t judge that teacher if you’re not willing to volunteer in the classroom.
So, whose job is it?
All of ours. Parents, and others to support them. Our children need and deserve everything we can give them, and it’s time for all of us to step up to the plate.
One more note, parents and teachers should be partners in their child’s education. As parents we need to build a positive relationship with our kids’ teachers and keep in contact with them. Go to conferences and open houses, but more than that, back your teachers up. Be willing to listen not only to the positives about your child but the things they need to work on, and help them by providing consistency at home. Parents, educators and community working together = the best possible outcomes for our children and the future.