By: Mia L. Hazlett
So I’ve been looking into moving closer to Boston. But to move is not as simple as finding a place and moving there. My number one concern as a parent of two school-aged children is a “good” school system. Now why “good”? Because I don’t leave it on the school to produce a well-rounded educated child. I just don’t. They are only 50% of the piece. I am the other 50%.
I’ve been part of many debates when it surrounds finding “good” schools. I consider a bad school/system, one where I must fear for my children’s safety on the regular. I’m not going to move to a school system where my children have to walk through metal detectors. Call me uppity, but that’s just a deterrent for me. So because I know people in some of the school districts I’m looking at, I’ve been told about gang stats and the such in the schools they work in/with. I’ve chosen not to move to those places.
That leaves looking at the school’s administration and teachers. I want to know how long have the teachers been teaching? I want to know how solid the administration is? And because I worked in education, I want to know what the administrative assistants are like. Does that blow you away? Well look, these are the people who run the school. Not curriculum and all that stuff. But take them away, you can say good-bye to receiving your report cards on time, getting meeting with the right administrators if something goes wrong, and less your teacher’s name, this is probably the person your child comes to know and love when they are there.
One of the biggest things I look at when viewing an administration, the diversity. Where my children are at the moment, their school system lacks the solid diversity that I require – at least 20%. And I don’t want that staff to be in the form of teachers aids, specialty teachers, or administration I want to know my children will be taught by someone who looks like them. Call me crazy, but my child wants to be a teacher and I would like her to have a role model that looks like her. This is the first school out of the three, that she has not been able to experience an integrated teaching staff. But because of life’s circumstances, we are at where we are at.
So less the integration dilemma, I love their school. Because even though it lacks the diversity, the district makes up where others have lacked the funding. Although they were allowed to ride the bus, I just didn’t feel real safe with that decision at their first school. The second was a charter school, which did not provide buses. So this is the first time year they have taken a bus to school. Believe it or not, this is also the first year they have had an adequate sized cafeteria. The first school only accommodated that for the K1 class and they ate at their desks. Not to say their school has a huge budget, but this was their first year with a gym and art class. Now I know this is the norm for many, so you may not see the big deal. For us it was a big deal.
Now when it comes to the actual curriculum component, I don’t leave that up to the school. I have always (even before they were in school) created my children’s curriculum and schoolwork. I always felt it was my job to introduce them to the alphabet and numbers, all the while reading to them every night before bedtime. Now I’m not the over-achieving mom that believes my baby should be reading. I’m not knocking the parents that feel the need to have their six month-old reading chapter books, to each their own. I just feel I need to be doing my part at home. So along with making sure they are fed healthy and get rest and get their social time in, I need to follow my kids progress or lack of in school. If they struggle with a subject, that is not on the teacher to ensure they get an A. It is my job to take notice of the report card and do what I can at home. These are some of the sites I have used over the years to help my kids and teachers along, www.enchantedlearning.com, www.ixl.com, and www.education.com. I’ve also heard www.readinga-z.com is another good site.
Again, I’m not some expert that has all the right answers. I’m just someone who believes we need to stop blaming the schools for failing our children. It’s time to take some ownership and responsibility for the resources technology provides us with. Trust me I know I can’t be a teacher. It’s just not in me. But if the teacher tells me my daughter needs some extra help in Science, I’m going to get her the help she needs. The teacher has done her part, now it’s mine. It’s time for parents to take some accountability for their kid’s education. Stop moving to a good school district and think that is the solution to a good education. Don’t get me wrong, that definitely helps. But if your kid is at that borderline between passing and failing, and the only thing you’ve done is show up at a parent-teacher conference. Then when your kid fails, it’s your fault, not the schools.