To the editor:
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Every election year, we hear the same promises of great things to come in our schools with the addition of a new learning program or the implementation of a new teaching strategy. Candidates even use statistics to prove this or that about student scores and teacher performance. And although voters know that none of these things will truly improve student grades and increase graduation rates in our schools, we continue to elect the same people back into office over and over again hoping for a different result.
So how do we fix a problem that has existed for decades? Well, as a teacher for over 10 years, I have been fortunate to teach students of every grade level, from Kinder through twelve, and I can tell you that the only true and proven way to improve the education of any student, in any county, here or around the country, is with parental involvement.
The main difference between private and public schools is not the facilities, the teachers, or the educational programs offered by the schools. The main difference between these two types of schools is the level of parental involvement. Many private and charter schools require parents to be engaged and involved in their children's educational journey. I can almost guarantee that if you are reading this article, you have been or are currently engaged in your child's education. You understand that schools aren't the magic kingdom and the teachers aren't the wizards who are magically going to instill in your son or daughter the desire to learn and work hard. These attributes can only come from parents, who set the example at home.
For every student in Lee County who does well in school and gets high grades, there is a parent, a father, a mother, an aunt, a grandmother, or a family member who loves them and is actively involved in their education. They are the type of parents who feed their children a good breakfast in the morning and make sure that they arrive on time to school every day. They are the type of parents who check that their child's homework assignments are complete. They are the parents who attend their children's school recitals and sporting events. They are the ones who are in attendance when their children have a school assembly or parent conference. They are the parents who make sure their children get to bed at a reasonable time so that they will be able to do their best in school the next day. They are the hard working parents, who although may be working more than one job, make the effort to be there for their children as much as physically possible because they understand that their level of engagement is the deciding factor in their children's success in school.
My mother used to say that since children didn't ask to be brought into this world, it is the parent's responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that their children will have a better life than their own. So how could it be offensive to ask parents to be more like you? Why can't our schools require all parents to do what many of you are already doing at home? I believe that our Lee County schools should require all parents to be more like you. We need to require that parents of Lee County students complete a certain number of parental involvement hours per year. The numbers of hours could range from 10 to 40 depending on the grade level of the student. Hours of parental involvement would encompass a variety of activities, which parents like you are already doing on a regular basis. For instance, when parents attend their child's football game or music recital or any other school function, they are currently required to sign in on a piece of paper. This is parental involvement and it helps to develop a self worth within our children that cannot be measured by any standardized test. We are not going to ask parents of A and B students to do any more than what they are already doing. They're doing an A+ job at being engaged and involved with their student's education. As a school district, we need every parent to follow your example. We need them to attend their child's school functions, music recitals, assemblies, ball games, or parent conferences. There are many other ways that parents can meet their number of parental involvement hours. If they choose, parents could help out in the classrooms, the library, or school office. Parents could also help with beautification projects around the school campus. There are an endless number of ways for parents to get involved, be engaged, and take ownership of their children's education.
How many more elections will come and go when voters decide to do what is comfortable and elect someone they know instead of making the bold decision and electing someone new who they know will do something different to improve our Lee County schools? If you are reading this article, you are probably one of the 20 percent of registered voters who will be participating in this year's primary election on Aug. 14. You know what it takes to improve education and you don't need fancy charts or statistics to tell you that students will be more successful in school when there is parental involvement. So the question then is, will you sit back and let a few voters choose another cycle of the same reused campaign slogans or will you vote for a new direction for our Lee County Schools? The choice is yours, the same, the past, or the future. You decide.
Candidate for School Board