Friday, September 14, 2012

Why Don't Parents Appreciate "Reforms"?

We keep hearing over and over again that recent education "reforms" are good for children.  Proponents of this "reform" movement will say, "Sure, selfish teachers and those nasty unions hate what we're doing, but it's good for students and their parents."

I find that a bit curious.  In my 16 years of teaching I've never had a parent say any of the following things:

  • "I really wish my child had more students in their class.  She is getting too much attention from her teacher."
  • "My child is too engaged in your class and has too much fun learning.  Please do more test prep with him."
  • "I'm really upset that my child is becoming too well rounded.  I'd really appreciate if you stopped teaching her anything but reading and math."
  • "My child's school has too many resources, the facilities are too nice, and I hate that it's so easy to learn in that environment.  I wish they would let the place get run down a bit."
  • "Kindergarten was terrible for my child.  She would have been so much better off if it wasn't available.  My child would have been so much better prepared for first grade if there was no kindergarten."
  • "It would be so much better for my child if they eliminated all of those extracurricular activities."
  • "Instead of spending money on children, I wish the school would give more to companies that publish test-prep materials."
  • "All that learning time is bad for my child.  I wish you would spend less time letting them learn, and more time testing how much they learned."
  • "I love the stress my child feels during the three weeks the state tests are given."
You would think if these "reforms" were making our schools so much better that parents would be more aware of the great changes going on.  Maybe they just don't know what's good for their kids as well as legislators do.

I don't fight against high-stakes standardized testing, budget cuts, allowing for-profit charter school management companies to siphon public school funds, and the influence huge test-prep corporations have over legislators because I'm a member of a teacher's union or because I am worried about my job.  There's a much more important reason.

Like every other teacher I know, I chose my career because I wanted to help help kids find the potential inside themselves so that future generations are better than mine.  I want kids to love learning, and to develop their talents so that they have every opportunity to be successful in their lives.  Like every other parent I know, I want the same things for my own children. 

I fight because "reform" is stealing the future from our students and my children.