I consider myself a library enthusiast. I happily pay my fines and fees, knowing it will help keep the lights on. It’s the least I can do, literally. I’m also a parent. My oldest daughter will be entering the first grade. I have 3 girls total and they are all being taught to be “library enthusiasts”. I feel it’s my job. One no one else is going to do. To instill in them faith in a system that allows for a person to see for themselves.
Nine months ago, I started to look into the education system in our state. I started where most parents start: in kindergarten. We were lucky. Our oldest got an amazing teacher, who saw the upsides to the new controversial standardized testing in our state-Common Core, as it’s known. At first, I read Heart Of The Matter. I first heard of it on The Colbert Report, seen here, one night before my daughter was to start kindergarten. I read it because it was on that particular show. After which, I asked questions of every person who I came across, that worked in education. I wanted know about their opinions and experiences. For the most part, teachers were excepting, if not content, with the standards. All the while trying to block out the negative perception projected by those who are typically opposed to “progressivism”. Those who were saying “common core is evil!” (They were, which is precisely why I ignored them).
My personal experiences this past school year forced me to try and understand the institute as a whole, from top to bottom. It seems daunting, even impossible at times. I’m forced to use as many resources as I can find. I’ll be honest and vulnerable. The truth is I need all the help I can get understanding how our education system works.
I don’t know a teacher’s perspective. I don’t know what it’s like to finish school and want to make a difference. I don’t know the disenfranchisement teachers face. I don’t know what a dedicated individual working with underprivileged kids goes through to acquire funding for kids, that some people see as a bother. I don’t know what it’s like for the Washington University educated folks to work in very impoverished areas, for meager pay.
I need perspectives from other parents. I need insight and knowledge on how the power players operate, by people working along side policy makers and lobbyists.
This is me being honest and knowing my limitations. I hope it’s read and understood. A confrontational tone from teachers, parents, or administrators is the last thing we need.
Like we saw from Mike Jones, Vice-President of the Missouri Board of Education recently, when he confronted Steve Stenger at a County commission meeting. You can hear thorough coverage of the event via NPR. The tone was hostile. It actually shifted the focus to Mr. Jones’ actions and his relationship with County Executive Dooley and away from the kids for a moment . It’s understandable, an election is coming up, but this is education. It shouldn’t be subject to the counterproductive squabbles of local politics.
At the same time, those administrators who are appointed, not elected, shouldn’t be showing contempt or making light of the elected process. Like , Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro did in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Comparing our elected process to a “homecoming queen” election.
I’m told to organize and network with other parents, but quite frankly, the parents who are interested in organizing are homeschooling or paying for private school tuition. So, I feel very much alone and outside looking in to a very complicated institute.
I do have faith, that good people will rise to the occasion and this problem will be fixed. Hopefully, my enthusiasm for libraries can help the process along, it’s a great place to start, but so much more is needed.
I will keep digging and striving to understand the system I’ve placed my daughters in at the tender age of five. I’ll always enthusiastically begin any dig at the St. Charles County Library…enthusiastically.