Monday, April 6, 2009

How much do we really care about our childrens' education?

I had a Conference with my first grader's teacher last Thursday. We are moving soon, and I wanted to have a final check in with her about his progress, and what I might possibly need to watch for.

The meeting went well and she was very enthusiastic about the progress he made throughout the year.

After yakking it up for a while, I voiced my concerns to her that the school he would be attending next would not rate as high as Treetops. You see, in choosing a school for him I consulted GreatSchools for ratings, test scores, and parent reviews.

Treetops, a Charter school, ranked above average; and African Americans tested better than students at the school close to my apartment. FYI: I loooove charter schools! In IL, however, charter schools are rare. Not to mention, they are far from home, and local school districts don't accept outsiders, not even military service member's children.

Well, Ms. Sara looked me in the eyes and said, "An involved parent beats a top ranked school any day." And I thought wow. Really? They, I mean, We, do?

She went on to advise me to stay active in his education, and develop a relationship with his new teacher. And my son would continue to do well.

This was all well and good, and relieved a lot of stress I was feeling concerning the move, but was shocking as well.

(This is how my brain works)

Do you mean to tell me that parents are partly to blame for the failing schools around the nation? That parents, quite possibly are ignoring their children and hoping the teacher will pick up the slack? Expecting a good return, but not studying our investment?

Well, I'll be darned!

Just how much are we Amercian concerned about our childrens' education? It is well documented that our nation has one of the worst school systems of developed nations.

Obviously we need better funding, dedicated teachers, and good curriculum.....but are we ready to stand up and take charge of our children's future.

Sending your child to a #10 school certainly gives you bragging rights, but when they graduate, are they equipped to lead a productive life?

This made me ponder my own educational experience. I attended low ranked school, in an economically depressed neighborhood, but was able to preform well during and after school. Why?

Well, for one I had great teachers, most of the time anyway. And I had a family that I wanted to emulate. My grandfather was a successful Navy Vet and retired Sea Bee. My Nana was a great local administrator. Uncles were postmen, and factory workers. And no one downplayed the importance of learning, education or speaking proper English. (Which was important since I was teased, much like Michelle, for my speech)

And I had cousins, who were sent to much better preforming schools than I, in really nice neighborhoods. Some turned out pretty well. But a number of my privileged relatives chose to sell drugs, take drugs, and party like it's 1999; all the time.

So what it really boils down to, at least in my estimation, is parents. Caring, involved, and committed parents. We have to save our children. We have to ensure they are tutored and mentored, and encouraged to succeed.

Because when the Obamas leave the White House, and years from now when my boys have become men....I want them to say, "Hey, Barack, I'm next!"

I want them to be baton ready. Ready to lead, ready to succeed, and ready to teach their own boys to be men.