Monday, March 3, 2008

Obama on Education

Finally, some talk about education! Thanks to Roadkill Refugee for pointing this clip out to me.

Here is the clip, and then I have a "speech" of my own to make.

Of course, I appreciate the acknowledgments that our kids need to learn more than just how to take a test, that we as parents have obligations to our kids and to our teachers, and that progress should not be punished. However, I have some concerns that he did not address.

First of all, it's all well and good to tell the parents to call the teachers if we can't help our kids, but how many teachers actually give out that information? The only teachers I know that will do such a thing are those at KIPP schools.

I agree that children should not be left to fend for themselves at the end of the day, but why do we insist on keeping our kids in farmers' hours of education? The system was set up for an entirely different time, and it's time for our schools to keep up with the times. KIPP students are in school until 5 pm. This allows them the opportunity to have Music and Art and Social Sciences and P.E., and still have ample time for Reading, Writing, and Math. And, yes, Recess!

My high school did this as well. I went to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where classes went from 8 - 4, and all our classes after lunch were in the Arts. Not everyone went on to become superstars, but we all learned how to work as a team, how to think critically, and how to express ourselves. Sylvia wants to go there for high school, and I'd support that wholeheartedly.

But parental support and involvement has to mean more than selling cookies and wrapping paper. KIPP is the only school where parents' concerns and ideas are taken seriously, and often implemented. KIPP is the only school that doesn't ask me to sell cookies or wrapping paper. KIPP is the only school where there is no formal PTA, and yet I feel I have more of a voice there than at any other school. KIPP is the only school that has provided me with a website where I can check all of Sylvia's grades from assignments to test scores, and I have every teacher's email address. KIPP is the only school that has offered moral support in times of family problems, and even a licensed therapist. KIPP is the only school that understands that we all need to work together, and that means supporting the parents as well as the parents supporting the teachers.

I'd much rather Obama commit to scrapping No Child Left Behind completely and making drastic changes than the modest proposals he's made in this speech.

Of course, he's got to win the nomination first!


Anonymous said...

Education is such an important issue and, sadly, it seems something that is talked about frequently but rarely ever acted upon. I can only hope that even half of the improvements that are being bandied about are actually brought to fruition.

And thanks for the info about KIPP schools. I'd never heard of them until this post. Unfortunately, when I looked it up I found none in Florida. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I was fascinated to read about the KIPP schools, too. I wish there were more of them nationwide.

MarĂ­a said...

We definitely need to ditch NCLB. I'm considering the Waldorf method of schooling my girls.

Jen said...

My son is at a non-Kipp school, and much of what you talk about is true of his high school, too, other than the longer hours.

All Children Left Behind has been just a disaster (I'm speaking as both a parent and a teacher).

OHmommy said...

Ahhh... education. Always so much talk and never enough action. I think everyone would agree. yes?

I hope that will change.