I picked up the concept of Parents as Equal Partners from the LAUSD.net website.
Being a teacher, I never saw parents as equal partners in their child’s education. I saw parents as very busy people who were doing the best they could to raise their kids right. I thought the very good parents were the ones who gave their kids lots of love, made sure they were well fed/slept/dressed for school. They were the parents that taught their children to respect others, how to have healthy fun and laughter, and show up to school ready to work. With that as my criteria for what I expected from parents, I could define what interventions and resources I would need to have in place on day 1 of school in the worst case scenario. That is, if 100% of the students walking in through my door had parents that were the opposite of how I defined parents in this paragraph.
To my delight I never had to use my worst case scenario plan, but I had one. The more I improved my teaching from year to year, the more I realized that I didn’t need to have a plan to overcompensate for what parents did or didn’t do, school related or not. Eventually, my opening remarks concluded with the following statements,
“Get ready for me, because I am going to know you and you are going to know me. Occasionally we will discuss topics that may not have anything to do with math, but those discussions will make you better students and better people. There’s nothing I will be needing from your parents, except for them to allow you to come to school on time everyday. The rest we will figure out together, and as long as you show me you take what I do and ask seriously, I will take you seriously, and will have your back. I am not a quitter. I don’t ever quit, and I won’t quit on you. I may fly off the handle in a moment of frustration, but I will not quit on you. So you might as well just follow my instructions and trust that I have your success in mind. And if at some point you don’t feel like I have your best interest in mind, I hope you respect yourself enough to tell me when you feel that way. With the whole class as my witness, I assure you that I will listen and respond respectfully. My response will not always be what you want to hear and may not always be explained to your satisfaction, but it will be fair. Now let’s get this journey towards success started.”Carlos Lemus, December 2020
Now, Back to Reality
The truth is that few people can do what I and a handful of other teachers can do. Teaching was our calling, and so when we teach the best of us comes out. For most, it is a job to earn income just like your job most likely is to you. And that’s okay. Few get to do what they are the best at and love doing for a living. Yet, the world marches on.
Before Having An Opinion Study Your History
How has humanity been able to progress despite not always having ideal teachers in our schools? Actually, teachers are very effective at what they are supposed to do. They may not match our definition of an ideal teacher, but that’s because they are aren’t and have never meant to be. It is only us, those who expect more from teachers, that are mistaken in our thinking. You see, public education wasn’t built for the development of a more just and verdant society. It was never intended to serve as a pathway out of poverty or to level the playing field for oppressed youth throughout America.
See what historians have to say about The Historical Timeline of Public Education, as presented by Race Forward. It shows the origin and evolution of public education in the United States being driven by money, interests, and desired social outcomes of wealthy businessmen. It was created to control the masses of poor migrants and immigrants who have flooded our large cities in waves throughout certain periods of American history.
All the wealthy businessmen asked in return for building these schools was, first and foremost, their safety and the safety of their families. Heaven forbid the masses really they were being exploited by just a few families, and Heaven forbid they realize the masses had the numbers to overwhelm their bosses and the goons that protected them. It could all be taken back in the blink of an eye.
Besides safety these wealthy businessmen asked that the graduates from these schools come out obedient, unambitious, hard-working, and able to fulfill basic physical and clerical tasks repeatedly throughout the work day. They wanted the families of these students to go to a certain church on Sundays, shop from a specific market, and vote for the politicians they wanted them to. To this very day, that is how our public schools are supposed to work, and that is how they do work, extremely effectively. In fact, because even the buildings we call schools today and the compensation and benefits plans used to recruit and retain teachers, were designed with this outcome in mind, there is very little even the best of freedom fighters can do to change the outcome.
The bottom line is that you can’t force a thing or person to do something it wasn’t made to do; at least nor very long and not very effectively. And so here we are now wishing teachers were all ideal, audaciously to have parents as equal partners in their child’s education. The bodies of these now defunct captains of industry who so graciously invested in shaping the minds and spirits of millions of children from future generations with just enough knowledge to keep them from turning on their bosses must be turning in their graves, saying what my mentor says to me when I say audacious things, “You must have me fucked up!!!”
What If Though. What Do We Have To Lose?
That’s right, school as we know it will never be enable any of us to achieve the ideals of life we desire for ourselves and our kids. That is unless you like being bound to a mindset and structure that will prepare you for an economical and political landscape that began changing 20 to 30 years ago, and will leave you feeling like you just wasted the last 5 to 10 years of your life. To avoid an ever worsening outcome we MUST rethink schooling, we must do it fast, and we must act faster. Because there is no time to waste you must pick an ideal you have for public education that the schools have failed miserably to fulfill. I choose parental involvement.
To have parents as equal partners in their child’s education everyone must change the way we think about schooling, educating, parenting, teaching, and mentoring. Most important of all, we must think very deeply about what it means to be a child born in the 2nd or 3rd decade of this 21st century. It is amazing how things have changed for children just in the last 20 years. More amazing is how much they remain the same. It is in this sameness that you will find the comfort and confidence in what you feel and know. So let’s go for it
Who Goes First?
The purpose of this page is to get you thinking and acting as a partner in your children’s education. By equal we mean equal to the teacher(s), counselor(s), principal(s), and anyone else to whom you have erroneously relinquished your power. They don’t want your power. They want your participation. Just like you must be careful about whom you give your power to, they must be careful what they ask for.
The literature provided here offers a balance of ideas about what it means for schools/districts to have parents as equal partners. The links take you to a variety of websites from schools/districts, parent advocacy groups, and other education-focused organizations. Please contact us if there’s something you’d like for us to find and add to this page.
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Articles on Education By CTD Development Services
Bad schools shouldn’t exist in the richest (or second richest) country in the world. The truth is that they don’t have to. The solutions to the problem of bad schools are simple. Not easy, but definitely simple. We have something to say about this. Click here to read past blog articles we have written about the problems and solutions for education in America.