Dear Parents of Children in Public Schools, I share this letter I wrote to myself hoping you join me on my journey to stop running away. I am writing this letter to myself as a reminder that I have helped perpetuate the barriers that now sit in front of my own children’s optimal academic success. I make this letter public for all to see what I do from this point forward, and hold me accountable on my own self-deception, if you see me half-stepping.
To my three amazing daughters, I see with clearer eyes than ever where I have let you down. I see how, despite my academic background, my ability to filter out the bs, my knowledge of and experience in public education, and my love of confrontation, I have failed you by giving 2nd priority to the most important confrontation in my life. That is the confrontation with the public school system you are a part of.
To the community I aspire to serve like my own family. I invite you to watch me confront my own shortcomings as a parent and the public school system’s shortcomings as a democratic educational institution. As I’ve shared with you before, the public school system is like any other system. It is run by good people who may or may not know what excellence looks like, but they can all be excellent if asked the right questions by a parent. But remember, you have to stop running away.
Don’t worry. Like lawyers, doctors, computer programmers, and politicians, educators are not smarter than you because they wear a tie, or spent more seat time at school than you or I did. They might be more knowledgeable about some specialized topic, but there are dozens of important practical things you know or can do which they can’t.
I don’t say this to put anyone down, but parents can allow themselves to be intimidated by a title and a bad attitude. Just trying to level the playing field by stating the facts I gathered while I listened to and observed my colleagues back when I was an educator.
Where most educators fail is in classroom management, differentiating instruction, and oh yeah, connecting with the students. I’ve also noticed that teachers in secondary fail to score and review homework and tests by the following day, often. So time management, sub-par commitment to student learning, and lack of respect for students’ time and effort appear to be an issue as well.
Principals, deans, and other school and district administrators have similar limitations. Just change the subjects’ name from student to teacher, and we see how the fish stinks from the head down.
Don’t forget, administrators were once teachers. They’re not former executives with experience successfully leading grown adults with titles to be productive, collaborative, and goal-oriented. They’re not former six sigma trained change consultants, certified in VSM, staffed with a process change manager, and a director of instructional leadership well-versed in culture change management.
But enough about educators. Let’s talk about the things every parent must do, and which I have not been doing for my own children. This is part of the recipe to get the most from the people that are run by the system. It all starts at home. It’s also how you stop running away.
Recipe For Parents To Get The Most Out Of The Public School System
You can only get the best from the public school system if you:
- Discuss and review the day’s work (and homework) with your kids everyday – more in middle school than in elementary school, and more in high school than in middle school. Usually parents become less involved as the kids become more independent. Can you say BAD IDEA? It’s not that the kids become worse. It’s that the adults they deal with are more burned out and sit themselves on a higher pedestal – especially if they teach math and science. You’re kids are probably going to tell you that they are either confused beyond comprehension, or that the teacher is a real a–hole. Both are the teacher’s fault.
- Remember this. Being good at math or science does not make a math or science teacher great at teaching it. Teaching a technical subject, so that the students themselves can repeat what the teacher does, is an art. Few have the commitment to learn how to do this efficiently.
- When your child reports having problems with a teacher, contact that teacher immediately, and ask to sit in on a lesson to “observe your child’s behavior.” Take these questions to the class to guide your observation. Does he speak to the wall more than he speaks to the students? Does he include all students in the discussion, or just call on the same two students with their hands up? Is there even a conversation? Does he talk longer than 3 to 5 minutes before checking for understanding? Does he truly check for understanding, or does he just mumble, “Any questions?” How does he respond when a student says I don’t understand, or asks a vague question? Does he have a strategy for keeping his more advanced students learning when one student needs individual attention, or does everyone get dragged back a couple of years to address that single student’s needs? Does the teacher feed you a lot of bs about how the system screws him and the students for sending them to him unprepared, but takes no ownership for his lack of effort or skill or creativity to have devised a method after experiencing the same thing year after year?
- Ask your child to show you her homework. If it looks sloppy, nearly illegible, make your kid do it all over again. You don’t even need to understand what the work is about to be justified. A forced revision, with an emphasis on neatness, won’t teach them anything new, but it will cause them to catch their own mistakes. The 2nd skill is more valuable than the first in real life.
- If your child tells you any of their teachers leave homework less than once a week, verify with the teacher right away. Either your kid is lying to you, or the teacher’s expectations for your child are too low. They’re both bad.
- If your child tells you he or she got their homework done in a particular class, call that teacher’s attention. My students never had free time to do homework in class, because I always had a backup extension lesson for the class, or an advanced exercise for my advanced students. There are so many standards to teach, your kid’s teacher should not have any time in the whole school year to call in sick, play movies for entertainment, or even desire to go on field trips, etc.,. The concept of free time in a school should not exist. Remind the teacher that homework is to be done in the home, and that you wish for your child to receive a full period of instruction every day.
- Train your child to get the homework done immediately after school. The material is still fresh in their minds, and they don’t need to stay up late to complete the occasional tough assignment. And it develops mental endurance. A normal work day is 8am to 5pm.
- Ask your child how she or he did on that homework assignment she struggled with or worked hard on the previous afternoon. If your child tells you it hasn’t been returned or graded yet, you’ve got a teacher who doesn’t understand the importance of immediate feedback for students. Worse yet, you have a teacher who discourages effort by not respecting your child’s time and effort. Call that teacher out. Call or e-mail the teacher immediately, and tell the teacher that you look forward to hearing your child’s report on how well or poorly he or she did on the homework, the day after the assignment is turned in.
- Have the kids read 20 to 30 minutes a day after school. If they coincidentally have have a day without homework, ask them to read 45 minutes.
Don’t forget to hold up your end of the bargain as a parent. Your kids must have books to read in the house. Can’t afford them? Take them to the library, or go online. There may not be money for milk, but the phone will be paid for. Just don’t give the kids excuses. Remember, parents are a child’s first teachers.
- Accept nothing but excellence from your child. I mean why not!! Seeing the genius in your child is a choice.
- Uphold your end of the bargain. You can’t throw stones in a glass house. If you’re going to critique a teacher, You have to do better than the teacher. Your child will be observing you. You can be a hero or a hypocrite. It all depends on you, the parent.
- You may have to participate in the school’s oversight and improvement. Once again, You can only critique an organization, if your organization, your home and your family, is better managed than the school. Keep an open mind and be prepared to learn a little before you speak. Remember, you can only make a difference for your child, if you stop running away!
What Do I Mean By Stop Running Away?
What I mean by running away is accepting that your children get less than a 4.0 GPA in school. It means not dealing with topics that demand your attention, such as the content of your child’s curriculum. Is it preparing him/her for a prosperous 21st century career? Who told you that it is, and why should you believe that person? To me running away is putting your head in the sand, or trying to deal with things from the side when they’re smacking you in the face.
In my case, I am asking you to stop running away from conversations regarding the educational attainment and career options for Black and Latino Americans ages 16 to 35. But we can’t have that conversation if you don’t watch the videos about the Google Diversity Gap Report data.
Who Am I Asking to Stop Running Away?
The biggest runaways, the people I’m really asking to hold on are Black and Latino parents, and I don’t care how educated or uneducated you are. It took me months to obtain the facts, connect the dots, draw my conclusions, and give you a play by play set of videos so you wouldn’t have to repeat the work.
You know the government likes to stay neutral with the facts. So they just state them. Even their analyses are very vanilla. So let me be clear. Things are jacked up for the youth and young adults in both groups, and people aren’t talking about it.
I get it. It gets old to be reported in last place all the time. Deep inside you say to yourself, well I’m not like them. My family’s not like them. Guess again.
If you’re tired of being classified as a card carrying member of the team that’s always in last place, why not act already? And I’m not talking about protests, riots, and sit-ins, or some minuscule vent on social media. What has that ever accomplished. That’s never worked. Never. Quick fix, sure. Long-term solution, NEVER.
Why Is It So Important To Me That Black and Latino Parents Watch the Google Diversity Report videos?
I’ve provided you with data about the educational attainment and career options for Black and Latino Americans ages 16 to 35 through video clips on the CTD Development Services YouTube Channel, because I have a strong feeling that if you simply watched the videos the data would be easier for you to read than you think. I also think that if you truly understood the data you’d be outraged by now. You’d be especially mad at yourself for not being aware and not taking action.
I’m pretty sure you’d take the advice I listed earlier in this article a lot sooner than you will if you don’t review this data, and understand what it means for you. That’s how important this information is, and that’s how bad the news is going to be for you and your kids, if you don’t get seriously involved in your child’s education, demand more from your kids, your schools, and yourself.
I know and understand this data. I’ve acknowledged that i haven’t demanded enough from my kids, their schools, and myself. I’m adding another layer by demanding more from you. You are my fellow parents and my community, my neighbors. This will be a collaborative success. But it doesn’t mean there won’t be resistance – better dealt with, with the support other parents.
So Why All The Frustration?
You haven’t watched these videos yet, and so you remain in oblivion. You prefer to watch me make fun of my greasy self. That video alone has more views than all the data-based videos on the YouTube Channel combined. You must stop running away!
Let Me Give You A Taste of What’s In Store For This Country in Some Real Simple Terms
You won’t find the graph below in any YouTube video I made, but what you will find is that at any given moment in the US, only 2 out of every 10 Hispanics ages 25 to 29 will have obtained a Bachelor’s Degree. That means 8 out of every 10 Hispanics in America doesn’t have a Bachelor’s Degree by age 29. Those are our neighbors, cousins, and in some cases our kids. I have three daughters. That means at least one of them won’t obtain a bachelor’s degree, if I simply follow the numbers.
But now let’s look at what the Hispanic population is supposed to be like 40 years from now according to the bar chart below. For simplicity’s sake let’s assume the rate of Bachelor Degree attainment for Hispanics remains steady at 20%. Let’s also assume that those over age 29 most likely didn’t go back to school to get their Bachelors in such high numbers to make a statistical difference. Let’s further assume that both history and the cycle of poverty repeat themselves, and so we can therefore assume for those below age 25 the rate of educational attainment will also be 20% for Bachelors Degrees. That means that based on the Hispanic population alone, in 2060, this country will have 89 million people capable of very little more than manual labor for very low wages. And that’s 40 years from now when the technology will be unrecognizable and far more dominant.
By the way, Hispanic population growth will account for the largest percentage of overall US population growth for the next 40 years. This diversity gap problem is an American problem.
Why I’m Still Sending My Kids to College
You can kid yourself and question the value and overvaluation of a bachelors degree from a prestigious institution, but I would say that with so many uneducated and unskilled people that will be looking for work in the next 40 years, those who can muster up a bachelor’s, even from the University of Phoenix, will have first dibs at a shrinking list of career options as artificial intelligence continues to supplant humans in the office. Oh yeah, I’m not only going to send my kids to college. I’m going to make sure they go to the most prestigious school I can afford, and I will direct them towards taking courses in STEM fields of study, where the potential of future employment is greatest.
All that being said, can you please watch these Google Diversity Report videos? Without looking at the data, you don’t know where you stand, and you can’t define where you are going. Furthermore, you won’t know if you’re headed in the right direction or not.
Where to Find the Videos With the Data
For The Best Learning Experience Read Below (51 minutes)
The YouTube video embed below will take you to a playlist with 15 videos about the current state of educational attainment for each major race/ethnic sub-grouping and for various age groups ranging from ages 16 to 35.
For The Second Best Learning Experience Read Below (25 minutes)
For the purpose of this article, we recommend you at least view the following videos on the playlist:
|How To Interpret The Google Diversity Report||3 min 48 sec|
|How does the diversity gap translate into the income gap?||14 min 26 sec|
|Do we have an equal access problem on college campuses||3 min 33 sec|
|Percent of 25 – 29 Year Olds With a BA, By Race/Ethnicity||2 min 02 sec|
|Percent of STEM BA Degrees Earned By Ethnicity/Race||2 min 15 sec|
Final Option: If you’re really short on time
If you’re short on time watch this 7-minute video that summarizes the playlist’s narrative.
Why Is Knowing And Understanding All This Data Important?
CTD Development Services Inc’s (CTDDS) believes the personnel diversity gap at Google, and other tech companies, is a problem that affects all of us, and has made closing this gap the focus of its mission statement. We believe that if you understood how the diversity gap at Google comes about, in very subtle ways that we allow, it would make your temperature rise. We also believe that if you understood the far reaching implications of this gap, you’d enroll your child in a coding class right after you finished reading this sentence.
On the surface the diversity gap, and the education attainment gap that explains it, appear to stem from an income inequality gap where those who have more money can overcompensate for our public schools’ limitations – through enrollment in private schools, charter schools, and through participation in extracurricular education enrichment and enhancement activities.
It would appear that the bottom line is that the Google diversity gap stems from an economic inequality exacerbated by the lack of access to information in poorer communities. This is partially true, but only if you believe that somehow the people at the new school are somehow smarter adults with magical powers the educators at the first don’t possess. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.
What most of us fail to understand is that every time we vote with our feet we do nothing to improve the educational system in our neighborhood, and we accept the burden and inconvenience of sending our children to a school outside of our own neighborhood. Meanwhile, those we left behind continue to work with our neighborhood’s children, and we eventually find out that the new adults working with our children went to the same schools of education as those from whom we walked away. Bottom line, they offer nothing better than what was offered at the neighborhood school, except safety, maybe.
It’s the supplemental activity and experiences that make the difference. This is where the investment needs to be explosive. Listen to what I’m saying to you. The worldlier your child and the worldlier his or her circle of friends the more hooked up s/he’ll be.
What’s Are We Going To Do Once You Stop Running Away?
The partners at CTDDS wrote an action plan we believe offers feasible solutions to the multitude of barriers that presently limit greater workforce diversity. Even the most well written plans can be executed successfully if they are adequately socialized with and supported by the groups they were written for. We have chosen to socialize this plan through the CTDDS YouTube Channel. Watch the Google Diversity Report Videos, watch the action plan videos, and then we can talk.
What If I’m Still Not Sure If I Should Stop Running Away?
Watch the video below. If everything I said prior to now still hasn’t motivated you to take more interest in the outcomes for the youth presently attending our public schools and universities, and my advice appears simplistic, maybe this video will help clarify my reasons.