I haven’t been given the opportunity to have children of my own yet; however, as an educator, I have spoken to and worked with many parents. I have worked in public charter and traditional public schools and have concluded that all parents want the same thing – for their child to get a good education and attend a good school. However, what parents often forget is that a child receiving a good education and attending a good school are not always mutually exclusive.
In my conversations with parents, if their child attends a good school, some of them are satisfied. Parents feel it is a badge of honor to say their child attends a high-performing school. My question is always, “How is that high performing school performing for your child?” This isn’t a myth; there are high performing schools that are failing students that attend them.
Parents, you must know your student. If you send your child to a high-performing school with a strict discipline policy because you want your child to have structure and discipline there is not anything wrong with that. I say this from experience; some students cannot handle zero tolerance schools. Parents love them because schools with zero tolerance or strict discipline create a safe environment for students to learn; however, what those schools do not take into consideration is that kids will be kids and sometimes they will step outside of the lines. Parents, if you know your child steps outside the lines more often than other children and they are suspended from school, is that high performing school educating your child? The answer is no. They can’t be because your child is suspended from school more than they are in school. Your child is not learning anything academically or for that matter behaviorally either.
I say wake up! Wake up and see what is happening to your child. Because your child attends a high performing school, with the fancy uniforms, catchy slogans, morning celebrations, and strict policy for disruptive students, you may turn a blind eye to the fact that your student is failing. If this sounds like your situation, you need to know your student isn’t learning anything. Your student does attend the college field trips, but s/he doesn’t participate in any of the activities. They are not contributing to what makes the school great. They are suffering and falling between the cracks, but you can profess proudly that your child attends this high performing school. As harsh as this sounds, your students are not aiding to the success of the school. Your child is failing and you are allowing it.
Every child deserves to attend a high performing school, but what every child needs more than anything is to attend a school that allows them to be high performing students. There are low performing schools or lesser performing schools that are doing exceptional work for some students, but because this school is not highly rated or they do not begin every morning with a celebration circle, they are not anything to brag about. Parents stop wearing your child’s school success as a badge of honor instead wear your child’s success as a badge of honor. If that school isn’t doing the work for your child, then why are you praising them? Look at your individual child’s performance and not the performance of the school as a whole.
As a school administrator, I strive to ensure my school is a good fit for every child; however, that may not always be the case. I would be doing that child a disservice if I continue to allow that child to fall through the cracks. Some students can strive in a strict environment and there are many others that cannot. That is the beautiful thing about not having a one size fits all model. There are some students who need to be in a school that will provide them with opportunities for correction and provides supports for their discipline. Suspending a child from school is not the only deterrent for misbehavior in school. When you have a child that constantly gets suspended from school not only are they missing the instruction but they also become desensitized to suspension.
Parents, I implore you to Wake Up. Look at your individual child and not the school as a whole because while you are looking at the school as a whole your child is losing.
This piece was originally published by the Indy/Ed.