October 11, 2010

It Takes a Community to Raise a Child

I was recently given a sneak peek of the now-released documentary Waiting for Superman. No, the movie has nothing to do with a man in a cape.  (although in one scene, a man admitted that when he was a child, he was truly disappointed to learn that no one was coming to save him from his life. Tragic.)

This movie has to do with the state of education in this country.  And while I don’t want to give too much away,  I will say that it really raised a lot of questions in my mind about what I plan to do when my daughter is ready for school.

I went to a private, Catholic school most of my school life.  I even went to an all-girls high school.  I wore a uniform until my first day of college.  (And believe me, uniforms are so much better than having to decide what to wear everyday.  Just my opinion) Basically, a private education is all I really know about.

So even though my child is not even two, I have begun researching schools.  Will it be private, public or will I send her to a charter school?  There are a lot of good ones (and not so good ones) out there.  But I know (especially after seeing this movie) that it will not necessarily be easy to get my daughter into a GOOD charter school.

How do you decide which school to send your child?  Do you ONLY look at test scores?  I personally don’t believe they are a fully accurate assessment of how a school/teacher is performing.  Do I go by philosophy, such as Catholic/Christian, Montessori, Waldorf, etc?  And how early do I commit to one style of education?  I certainly don’t want to keep moving my child from school to school as she is desperately trying to find her place, her friends, her voice.

But whatever I choose, I am still concerned about the state of public education in this country, this state and in my own neighborhood.  I know that many of the kids on my block do go to the local public school.  And the quality of education they receive has ripple effects in my own life.

If these kids are getting the attention they need to succeed, most of them will succeed.  But if they are stuck in a school where they are allowed to slip through the cracks, they will do that as well.  And then where do they go?  Gangs, prostitution, drugs?  Do I want THAT in my neighborhood? No, of course not.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “it takes a community to RAISE a child”.  I say it also takes a community to EDUCATE a child.  We cannot only be concerned with our own kids.  We have to understand that many different people will have various influences on our kids.  So the more we take part in making our community and local education system better, the more likely we’ll see positive effects in our own home.

So my question is this.  What do you think about the public education system as it is now?  Do YOU send your child to a public school?  Why? And if not, where does your child go?  And how did you decide?

Since I am a radio girl, I of course am expanding on my blogs with an audio show. Here I was able to talk with some top leaders who have some advice for parents whose children may be in a poor performing school. And actually, this is good advice for ALL parents to hear.


  1. I have two children and I have experienced first hand the failing school system in our country. I am a parent that has been "proactive", choosing catholic private schools for them through grammar school and then finding it increasingly difficult with the economy to continue paying tuition when they got to high school, and now am forced to have them both attend a public high school. Here's what I've learned in both accounts; the quality of the school is only as good as the teachers, administrators and parents you have running it. That is the bottom line. Students are more than academic profiles, they are people with real problems; socially, emotionally and academically. What's wrong with education in this country is the "system", it's broken. They fail to work with the "whole" child in creating an environment that is conducive to real learning. Teachers are protected by an old system of union that doesn't apply anymore and bad teachers continue to stay employed when they shouldn't be. Administrators are so busy "administrating" that they don't even connect with the students and the parents. Drugs run rampant, bullying continues to be a huge problem and the counselors who are supposed to be there to help are limited to assisting only with class schedules and some college prep advice. Kids need safe environments that are conducive to learning, they need to have their emotional, social, and cognitive needs met -- and since no two people learn the same way, teachers need to continue to be challenged and held accountable for teaching styles that are meant to offer every student in their class with the same opportunity to learn. All too often the attitude of teachers is "Tough" "My classroom my rules" and many have little time to work with students outside the class to help them etc. I could go on and on, but I am not at all pleased with the state of affairs with education not just in our country but right here in our district. Whether the school is private, public, charter, etc., more and more students are being "left behind" because the "Whole" child is not being considered. It is the responsibility of the community to step forward and hold our schools accountable and assist in improving the system. The basic education system model is what's wrong, not test scores or location. That is what I believe needs to be looked at. Times are changing and with it so does our education system. Perhaps we need to look at the school systems in the countries where education scores are up and take some cues?!

  2. As an educator, I agree one hundred percent that the "whole child" is not being considered. As a teacher, I know that reaching the whole child is ideal. But it is hard, because the system IS broken. Thanks to No Child Left Behind, the system is now set up so that all that matters is test scores. Since when did my child's worth become nothing but a score? But when math and language arts are tested by the state at the end of the year, and a school's funding depends on its scores, and I find myself trying to cram as much as I possibly can in so that my students do well. Does that leave time for art and music? No. Does that leave time for students to delve deeply into the issues and become deep, critical thinkers? No. Does that mean that students can develop a sense of self worth through things other than math, reading and writing? No. But unfortunately this is what we educators must deal with. We are just playing with the cards we're dealt.

    The system is most certainly broken, but it is incredibly disheartening to hear the constant teacher bashing. I, and all the teachers I know, work extremely hard so that the future of students (and thus our state) can be bright. So please, parents, educate yourselves on what the system is really about. And if you want to change it, work WITH public school teachers, not AGAINST them. We want the same thing you do: for children to succeed.