Everyone has Experiences with Education

     One of the strongest assets of public education is The Public.

     Everyone is free to voice their opinions regarding public education in general as well as public education as it relates to their own school (or their child's school).  Everyone has had experiences with education and everyone has their opinions regarding what should happen within the school walls during the school day.  The strength of a public school is its ability to respond to the needs of the public in its mission to educate and prepare students for their future.

      Of course, this can be a messy process at times; and everyone isn't going to get everything they want all of the time.  As society changes and as America changes and as the world changes, our public schools must also continue to change.  Sometimes changes don't lend themselves to simple "right" or "wrong" solutions.  Sometimes people prefer the comfort of "staying the same" rather than the uncertainty of change as we prepare for the future.

     Still, we are stronger when we listen to varying points of view and consider varying options.  Schools know that it is important to have a partnership with parents.  We know that students do better academically when their parents are involved in their education.  It is unfortunate that (so often) the newspapers only talk about the struggles between school systems and the public.  It much more common for schools to seek positive relationships with their parents and even to encourage more parental participation in school issues and events.

     The public makes our schools great.  As a teacher, I would occasionally receive advice from a parent regarding my teaching.  Sometimes I was offended and sometimes I was appreciative.  But (probably) all times, it affected my teaching in some way.   I would think about what they said and compare it to what I knew about teaching; and I would (perhaps in a small way) change what I did for the better.  The same thing happens to principals and other school leaders.  We take in the advice and opinions of many and it shapes our thinking--perhaps, it even shapes our actions.

     I wonder if it is the case that most people never comment about educational matters; and only the people who are really angry and only the people who are really happy tend to be the people who speak up.  That can be dangerous because the people on the extremes (often) do not represent the opinions of the many.  So the next time you receive an email or phone call from your child's teacher (or superintendent) asking for your opinion, please take a few minutes to share what you think.

     We're listening.  After all, you are the "public" of our public education!


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