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Race to the Top: A Parent’s Perspective

by Gretchen McIntosh

               The President has just announced the “Race to the Top” grants to Delaware and Tennessee to reward their state education policy reforms, which included adopting standards and assessments to better prepare students for careers and college, getting high-quality teachers, turning around low-performing schools, and creating data systems to track performance.  Ohio, where my own children attend school, was in the running but fell short. So what can I do as a parent to help my state get the federal grant money to really improve my children’s education?

               I might not be able to have an impact on state-wide education reform, but I can start a fire right here in my own community.  I am not satisfied with the education currently offered to my children.  I would argue that there is enormous room for improvement.  My children are enrolled in dance and music lessons to offset the lack of these programs in their school.  We frequent the art museum and pay for art classes at that museum so that my children are exposed to art more than the two times a month their school curriculum allows.  But they still need more challenge in reading and math.  

               I know I am not alone in my concerns.  Across the country in California, Kirsten in her Silicon Valley Moms Blog recognizes that “we are failing our children and we can do so much better.”  By banding together under the common desire to better the education of our children, we can accomplish much more.  As parents, we hear all the time that if our neighborhood school is not what we want, then we must put in the time and effort to change it.  And now the federal government is pushing on the other end.  Our opportunity is knocking.

 I am sure that my children’s school could implement all of the reforms requested by the “Race to the Top” initiative.  Great assessment and differentiated instructional programs are available to assist districts with improving and tracking performance.  District leaders need to be informed about teachers who have lost touch and perhaps need to be replaced with more energetic, student-centered teachers.  If motivated teachers are given the proper tools to assist with assessment and supplemental instruction, the low-performing schools would improve greatly.  Our children’s education would be positively affected, and that is change we will all benefit from.

Tags: race to the top, parent involvement, education and parents

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