It is School Choice Week in North Carolina. I’m seeing phrases like, “failing public schools” on twitter by some of school choice’s most ardent believers. I hate the term, failing public schools. If there is failure, it is the failure of our state to fully fund our public schools. However, sometimes those funding failures aren’t clearly articulated to the public. Sometimes, we put school boards in the hot seat or even county commissioners. We see our kid struggle to learn, but sometimes don’t ask the right questions as to why this is happening. We don’t point the finger in the right place.
Public Schools are public. That means it is up to us to lift them up. We can vote, we can advocate, we can speak up. When we see a problem in our schools, it is our job to find a solution that benefits not just our child, but our community as a whole. We are the public, and ultimately we are responsible for our schools. We can’t let them fail. We can’t let our legislators fail our students any more than they already have.
Here lies the biggest struggle. How do we lift up problems, and not scare away parents. I get to hear terms like ‘market share’ in meetings now. It means administrators and even teachers won’t voice their real concern for needs in the classroom. As a parent, I’m not always aware of the number of TAs our school has or how much a difference that can make to teachers and students. Many parents may know that their child’s 4th grade class is overcrowded, but not the reason why.
Despite market share and the threat of competition, we need to speak out. Rarely do we fix problems and issues with our silence. We need to get educated on the issues facing our schools. Parents need teachers to speak out. Parents need administrators to speak out. When we identify the problems, we can also identify the solutions. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
As legislative agendas get finalized by many education non profit organizations and advocates, you will hear about some of those problems and solutions. As parents, as the public, we need to be part of the solutions. It might mean showing up to a meeting or two. Maybe your school could benefit from some education issue forums? Maybe a legislative visit is in your future? Save Our Schools NC would be happy to help. Contact us. We have materials and are happy to share.
So when looking at other choices I urge you to ask hard questions. Ask if fully funded, how different our already awesome traditional public schools could be? We need to make the choice in North Carolina to fully fund our public schools.