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Last week I attended the Parenting Magazine Mom Congress on Education and Learning as the Colorado delegate. The event, held at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.., brought together 51 amazing mom-delegates from all over the country, each passionate about different aspects of education.
Many educational leaders and advocates in the United States spoke with us; people like U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Let’s Move!, StudentsFirst.org, Reach Out and Read, National PTA, National Education Association, National Head Start Association, PBS, Jumpstart, Jamie Oliver, and NBC Learn, to name a few.
The experience was intense. So much so that I needed a few days to reflect before I shared anything with you. Now, I have so much to share it will take several weeks. But, it’s so good, you’re going to be as excited about the future as me. The future in which we – you and I – make a difference.
My biggest takeaways were these:
1. DON’T DO IT ALONE
We must all take responsibility for improving education (which we already know) BUT, we must also join together in a united front to make our case for our issue in educational change.
What struck me is how many of speakers emphasized the importance of forming a group of people, not just trying to make change as a single person. Numbers affect change.
In my situation, I think that’s exactly what I should have done differently. Remember when I wanted less worksheets, more books, and less teaching to “the middle” at JJ’s school? Remember how I was told that the kindergarten teachers used a Houghton-Mifflin curriculum and they didn’t have time for a constructivist approach? Remember how I got in hot water for blogging about my concerns? (I even heard that I’m now called a “trouble maker”!) In retrospect, I should have gathered other parents who felt the same way, who wanted differentiation and less worksheets. Strength in numbers. All of us could be trouble makers.
Which, incidentally, I was crushed by — at first. Now I welcome the label. If that’s what it takes to do my job as a mom, and frankly, as an educator who wants the best for children, — to stand up for excellence in education, then bring it on. Maybe I’ll get a shirt.
As a former teacher, I never wanted to be “that mom” but, one of my friends at Mom Congress said it best when she said, “It’s my job to be that mom.”
You are not alone. Neither am I. Be “that mom,” “that dad,” and “that teacher” and let’s stand up for our children. It’s our job to advocate for their best interests.
2. PARENTING MAGAZINE PRIORITIZES EDUCATION
Honestly, I wondered if this conference would be fluffy photo opps and feel-good panels. Not even close.
Parenting Magazine brought together amazing experts and leaders in education. The dialog was intense, the learning rigorous, and the inspiration life-changing.
Just a bit about Parenting Magazine . . . The magazine is two magazines actually – Parenting School Years, for moms with children in kindergarten through elementary school, and Parenting Early Years, for moms of infants, toddlers and preschoolers. If you don’t read them already, now that you know their priorities are with education, give them a read.
P.S. Check Out Parenting’s School Transformation Grant
Parenting magazine today announced the launch of the Mom Congress® School Transformation Grant Contest, which will award one lucky winner a $20,000 grant to provide educational resources to a school in need. Parenting announced the contest during the second-annual Mom Congress on Education and Learning conference at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., a four-day event to celebrate and connect parents who have made a difference in the fight for better schools.
Entries for the School Transformation Grant contest will be submitted through Parenting.com/MomCongress, and will require a photo or video of the nominated school along with a 200-word essay on how the school would use the prize money. Site visitors will be able to view each entry and vote for the school they feel is most deserving. The school with the most votes by September 30, 2011 will win the $20,000 grant courtesy of Parenting, and the winner will be unveiled this fall.
Like Mom Congress at www.facebook.com/momcongress.
Find great resources at Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress Resource Center.
There’ll be more posts to come about what I learned at Mom Congress. I can’t wait to tell you everything.
*Please, please, accept the ground rule of kindness when you comment about any of the Mom Congress blog posts. We all want the same thing – a great education for our children, right? Let’s encourage each other to treat each other with respect and, if nothing else, agree to disagree.
I know you will, I have the best readers!
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