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Mom Congress is Parenting Magazine’s way of improving schools. Created in 2009, Parenting magazine began the Mom Congress on Education and Learning. Can you imagine hearing from Seth Nickinson of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Kelly Chapman Meyer of The Teaching Garden, Jill Vialet of Playworks, Robin Schepper of Let’s Move!, author, James Howe, Michelle Rhee of Students First, Dr. Robert Needlman of Reach Out and Read, and Arnie Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education?
Me, neither. But, guess what – I get to imagine it because . . .
I won the nomination for Colorado! I’m going to Mom Congress!
That means I’m going to Washington D.C. to try to make a difference and meet with leaders in education. Talk about a dream trip and something I’m totally passionate about!
So far here’s what I”m thinking are my top three priorities for discussion — please let me know what YOU think and what you feel is most important! If you’re like me, and you just might be, you know there is so much that needs to improve, it seems like an overwhelming list.
1. If we really want children to be reading on grade level by third grade (and I wonder if we really do?), we MUST use all our best teachers and money to ensure this happens.
In my opinion, this means all K-3 classes should be 15 or under with a full time aid, a classroom library, and a master teacher who can differentiate and teach using a constructivist approach.
2. Principal and teacher evaluations must change to include student and parent feedback and include consequences – and not be about test scores! Here’s why Michelle Rhee gets criticised — she wants consequences and that’s why the unions don’t like her. I agree with her even though I was a union member in Douglas County Schools. If ineffective teachers continue to teach our children, without motivation to change or without being fired, then there will never be improvement in education. Furthermore, if principals who do not understand instruction, who are not instructional leaders and good communicators with parents, continue to lead ineffectively and only be evaluated at the district level, things will never change within their schools.
3. We must support teachers with time, well-qualified support staff and plenty of excellent professional development opportunities. If we want teachers to do their jobs well then we must give them the tools to do it!
Ironically, I’ve been trying to make a difference in my local school where I asked for less traditional teaching and a more constructivist approach. Think globally, act locally, right? But so far that hasn’t worked out well. In fact, it’s gone quite badly. But, I’m still glad I’ve spoken up and taken a stand for improving the school, even if I’m not the most popular person there, and even with all the other things that have happened because of it. (I’ve removed some of what’s happened for personal reasons.)
I can say this — there are so many things that need work in public schools – it’s hard to know where to prioritize our time and resources.
So, my questions for YOU is . . .
What are your biggest concerns in education right now?
What do you want policy makers to prioritize? and why?