There is a war with our current state of education. Many people think that public education is not doing its job. It is a perception that has little basis in reality. The truth of the matter is that public education is thriving. New ideas and innovations are being introduced that make our curriculum stronger. Teachers are held accountable for the success of their students in ways they had never been before. Students are learning more, and earlier than they had in the past. At the same time, today’s public schools often have had a bigger role to play in the education of students than had previously been the case, and that role taxes our abilities to help students learn while creating the perception that we aren’t doing all that we can.
Twenty or 30 years ago, if a student misbehaved in class, all it took was a teacher or principal to make a phone call home. Usually, the mother or father would say, “You take care of him at school, and we’ll take care of him at home.” Parents understood that the school system was committed to the child’s well-being and education. Punishment was one of a variety of tools used to make the student a better person. Parents believed in what the schools were doing, and they supported the decisions that were made. Trust in the system was the key ingredient that allowed teachers and parents to work together for the betterment of the student.
We still have many parents today who work with us on all aspects of creating good students and model citizens. One phone call home can still make all the difference in the world. But when parents see the schools as the enemy, when they assume that any attempt to discipline their child is an attack or is something they need to defend their child against, the schools themselves are under attack and our job as educators becomes twice as difficult.
There is a saying that the only disability in life is a bad attitude. Students who come prepared with an ethic to learn and a desire to work can be anything they want to be in life. That is as true today as it was 20 or 30 years ago. As educators, we want to partner with parents to prove this point. You can help us do our job by preparing your children in the following ways:
• Take an interest in what they do.
• A good rule of thumb is to not accept anything less than an “A” into the home. This wayexpectations will always be high. If you accept a “C” and you do not say anything, you will more than likely be setting the groundwork for a “D” to come home. So please keep the expectations high no matter what.
• Also, if you are in a disagreement with the school about an issue, it is important to not discuss this in front of your child. Often children tend to use this to their advantage.
• It is imperative that students attend school. Before we can even attempt to educate we must have the students at school every day.
• Finally, get into the schools and be as supportive as you can. I believe that having strong parental contact and a good teacher could make all the difference in the world.
We are working night and day as hard as we can to bring about improvement throughout all of our schools. This leadership starts with the Sumter County Board of Education and channels down to the principals/assistant principals. Please join us as we work to strengthen the culture of Sumter County Schools to be a “winning culture!” We are striving to create a unified goal congruence where all stakeholders are working together for the betterment of our students. In my next column, I will discuss what a “unified goal congruence” is all about.
All in all, I would like to see a profound interest from the community, the parents, teachers, and leaders of the community to put education as the number one priority for Sumter County.
Torrance Choates, Ed.D., is superintendent, Sumter County Schools.