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As Parents We Ask, Who Cares for Children Anymore?

I eat, sleep and breath education nowadays. I am always contemplating what can be done to make things better for our kids in New Orleans. How can the groups that I am involved in affect parental involvement, awareness and participation? From leadership classes to town hall meetings, these thoughts of how to spark holistic growth in our schools run through my mind.

One morning it wasn’t any different but as I sat on the side of my bed and read a resignation letter by Wendy Bradshaw, a former teacher in the Polk County School District, all the emotions I felt as to what is going on with education hit home and I had to commit my feelings to paper.

I ask, Tell us who cares for the children anymore?

I was catapulted into education turmoil when my daughter’s school, Andrew H. Wilson, faced closure or a hostile takeover. A group of us parents stepped in, demanded our voices be heard and we eventually achieved the best outcome for our kids. I have witnessed battles between opposing sides and many situations that had little to do with educating children.

I have spoken to many parents who have questions about their children’s homework, classwork and school life. Parents who have seen kids make a 360 degree turn for the worse. Children crying because of the pressure placed upon them to grasp a new curriculum that teachers don’t understand and is not backed with proper resources. Parents who feel helpless because they cannot help their children with homework because of the confusing nature of new standards.

I speak to teachers who loathe giving tests aligned to the Common Core standards to students who they know are not educationally prepared.

Ms. Bradshaw captures familiar emotions when she wrote, “They cry as their hands shake trying to use an antiquated computer mouse on a ten year old desktop computer which they have little experience with, as the computer lab is always closed for testing.”

I’ve heard accounts from other educators about children who are forced to stand like soldiers, obey the unreasonable demands placed upon their curious minds or face harsh discipline capped off by a series of suspensions and then expulsion.

I get an alert on my phone, a Google alert that I have set to inform me of education stories making headlines in New Orleans. Most mornings they read as if reporters are vying for the hottest headline or sordid story to get the most hits, likes or views.

The morning headlines and stories didn’t disappoint. “The New Orleans Advocate” flashed “Closed New Orleans charter school may have violated state policy by selling computers, audit says.”

Not to be left out, Nola.com followed suit with “N.O. charter computer sales appear to be illegal, auditors say.”

Bayoubuzz.com chimed in with “Edwards’s position on charter schools, a big issue for New Orleans.”

These news stories and the current narrative around education have very little to do with what parents consider to be important issues involving the education of our children. As parents we grow weary of politics. We ask how the current conversation affects schools that are still not providing the education that our children are in so desperate need of.

In the article from Bayoubuzz.com, Stephen Waguespack did weigh in with a solid statement when he said, “Decades of poor educational outcomes have contributed to our chronic challenges with generational poverty, crime, poor health habits, an under-developed workforce and slow economic growth.”

We are not in need of a fly by night, slick talking salesman selling snake oil and a magic elixir. Who is trying to convince us it’s working while never inviting us to the table or having a decent conversation with us? Who throws us a letter grade and a series of numbers and expects us to figure out the equation?

Parents know there is work to be done and again we want to know does anyone care for children anymore? Are our children gaining holistic life skills in these schools? Are they discovering themselves? Are they growing in various aspects that will strengthen critical thinking and allow them to relay the information they have obtained?

The letter by Mrs. Bradshaw has hit home because it brings up what parents are thinking firsthand. She wrote, “I spent countless hours in my classroom conferencing with families and other teachers, reviewing data I collected, and reflecting on my practice so that I could design and differentiate instruction that would best meet the needs of my students each year.”

I wonder what system could run a dedicated educator away. We have  seen it too often. Parents want education that should ignite a spark in our children and schools should be a sanctuary where students can come to grow and learn. I believe that is not too much to ask. Once again I ask, Tell me who cares for the children anymore?

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