School is in full swing across the country. And we begin a new year with many challenges facing the education system that underscore the need for engaged families, and then some. From the release of the film Fruitvale Station to the release of the documentary, We The Parents, there is a growing sentiment that engaged families still represent a critical component of the three-legged stool to educate young people.
With the onset of Common Core, many continue to share that our children are not achieving, that they simply are not fit to enter the military, go to work or enroll in college. While this may be partly true, we should all be mindful that our young people need us now more so than ever before. The challenges they face coupled with a system sending competing messages about their intellect, can be a recipe for disaster. Left to interpret the policy discussions, conflicting laws and budget woes, families are stuck in the middle striving to do what’s in the best interest of their children.
At one point in society, it seemed pretty straightforward: Enroll your child in the neighborhood school, attend the schedule parent teacher conferences, and talk with your child about their future. That seemed to be an equation for student success.
However, in this day and age, families and educators must think differently about how they partner together to help every student achieve. I intentionally use the term “family” in lieu of “parent” because I’m conscious of the number of extended family members (grandparents/aunts/uncles/siblings) who have picked up the mantle and shoulder the responsibility for ensuring ALL children receive a quality education.
To succeed going forward, our young people need an ecosystem composed of those who embody the ‘and then some principle.’ Today, not tomorrow, our students need educators who arrive early and work late – they need teachers and then some. The leaders of tomorrow need leaders today at the central office and state capitol who are willing to set aside adult issues and allocate, not cut, the resources needed to ensure OUR future. The children of now require families to sacrifice their own goals and lifestyles to enable the achievement of dreams on the horizon.
The founder of Bethune-Cookman University put it best when she penned these words in 1954: “Our children must never lose their zest for building a better world. They must not be discouraged from aspiring towards greatness, for they are to be the leaders of tomorrow.”
Byron Garrett is among the speakers at the 3rd Annual Scholastic FACE Symposium running Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Several talks from the symposium will be livestreamed here, including Dr. Karen Mapp of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (8 a.m. on Monday the 30th) and Ralph Smith of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (11:45 a.m. on Monday the 30th). We invite you to listen in and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #ScholasticFACE.