So the movie “Won’t Back Down” premiered last weekend. I didn’t see it because I’m not into feel good, inspirational movies. I’ll get my inspiration somewhere else.
A more specific reason why I didn’t see the movie is because I don’t support charter schools and parent-trigger laws. The results are questionable and although they are supposed to be a panacea for the ills of American public schools they are only prescribed for failing schools in urban schools with children of color. Since students in other countries routinely do better than students in the United States, it would seem that even children in better schools aren’t all that smart either. (If these students are compared to students with fewer resources and worse environmental factors, is this a fair comparison? Do you compare Major League players to Triple-A players? No…) So charter schools should be popping up in every neighborhood, right? Well, they don’t…
Secondly, the idea that parents can decide to take over a school from trained professionals is pretty absurd. How disrespectful is it to treat education like it’s not an actual profession like law enforcement, dentistry, psychology, or even landscaping? Landscapers get more credit for being a part of a profession. Wow! This takeover process is like a crazy quilt of random ideas from parents. Mind you these ideas weren’t acquired after years of study and observation. Nope, who needs book-learning and evidence to run a school that’s supposed to do a better job of teaching children with book-learning and evidence. Once again, don’t be silly, sure you can! Next random concerned citizens will take over hospitals, nuclear plants, and city hall (oh wait they can do that, damn democracy!).
For elementary and middle school, I attended schools on military bases. At the last school I attended, we had poor funding and second hand books, but we had dedicated parents and teachers. Yet somehow despite low funding and parents being deployed over and over, military base schools do better than public schools and have a lower achievement gap between black and white students.
Parents don’t have to take over the school because they’re already involved. According to an article on the Vanderbilt University website, this success is possible because the schools are “the most critical institutional support and social sanctuary for families.” Also, it was found that “parents structured and enforced quiet time and space for homework and reinforced the high academic standards at home that are set by teachers at school.” Dear me, if my dad didn’t make us sit at the dining room table for our homework; while he used three different dictionaries to find the best meanings for the words on my spelling list!
Maybe parents should quit trying to takeover schools and complaining about what someone else isn’t doing for their children, but instead they should show their children that education is important. Go to parent teacher conferences, volunteer at the school you can, ask your child how they plan to improve bad grades, show that you’re proud of the good grades they do receive, and tell them to sit their behinds at the kitchen table for their homework!
If parents in third world or developing countries can convey this message, parents here in the United States can do the same.