It’s hard to keep up with education today, especially if you are a parent with other things to worry about besides your children’s schools. Now, don’t get me wrong: There’s nothing more important to worry about than your children’s schools. But as my longtime boss often said, “The urgent often drives out the important.” In other words, sometimes you have a lot on your plate that has to get done right away at work or at home, thus pushing aside things that are more important in the long run or that you indeed care more about.
Sometimes teachers and principals make it difficult for parents to engage with them—sometimes on purpose, but often by accident. We will chat about that together in the coming months.
Sometimes education reform movements gain momentum and take on a life of their own (can you say, “Common Core”?)—sometimes improving the status quo, but often not making much of a difference. We will chat about that together in the coming months.
Sometimes the federal government or state governments step forward and make a change that affects millions of students and parents—sometimes with landmark legislation that changes children’s lives for the better forever, but often with regulations that make life unnecessarily difficult for children and teachers and administrators every day. We will chat about that together in the coming months.
Sometimes colleges move as groups or individually to bring new perspectives to their own missions and to the students they serve—sometimes with great new programs and services that attract more students, but often with additional hurdles that rule out even more students. We will chat about that together in the coming months.
As I said earlier, there is a lot going on in education today—from preschool through college. Maybe there has always been this much going on, but we just hear more about it now because of instant media coverage of everything that happens and because of so many bloggers and news services, including those dealing solely with education, publishing online every day. As I am fond of saying to my colleagues, “I have read more articles about education in the past year than I have during the rest of my 40-year career.”
What do I hope to add to this conversation? Just plain talk. No jargon. The kind of discussions I have been having with parents and school board members over many years. As my mentor often said, “I made a career out of telling the truth when no one else would.” That wasn’t always the best business decision, but it was always the right decision.
I also hope to give you, as individual parents, some ideas on how to approach the people who govern and operate your schools: the school board, the superintendent, the principals, and the teachers. Different issues call for different approaches. But there is almost always something that I wish you would do to make your schools work a little better for your kids.
I look forward to chatting with you.