Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Shared Goals


140 meetings with 1400 students, educators and parents later, we have an agenda for the schools we all deserve.
Do you want less testing and more staff to work help students learn? Do you believe the role of special education staff and the services that students receive should improve? Do you want schools free of racial discrimination against students? Do you want kids to have access to better food and after school activities?
If you said yes, we'll see you 7 pm, at Owen Brown Interfaith Center.

This post, on the HCEA Facebook page, is your invitation to participate in a one-of-a-kind experience to shape the education of our children in Howard County. Tonight's meeting is the culmination of months of listening to students, parents, and community members. Now the results will be shared and participants will help to choose an agenda for positive change.
A reminder as to what this is all about:

PATH (People Acting Together in Howard) and HCEA (Howard County Educator's Association) have kicked off a Community Listening Campaign to engage young people, parents, community members, and educators in a conversation centered around what kind of challenges our schools are facing and what kind of schools our community deserves.

I participated in this process as a school parent. PATH and HCEA facilitators asked some very basic questions and then their only job was to keep the conversation going in a positive, respectful way and to write down what people said. It was extremely well run, and took only about an hour. Not only did I have a chance to have my say, but I learned a lot from others who participated.

In the aftermath of Thursday's Board of Education meeting, I have seen some comments and write-ups that suggest the theme of those attending was protecting teacher salaries. That's an easy analysis, but not a correct one. If you look at who spoke, and what they said, a deeper message emerges. The signs may say "Stand With Educators" but both the turnout and the testimony say "We Stand With Educators".
  • Parents stand with educators.
  • Current and former students stand with educators.
  • Community members stand with educators.
This takes me back to a post I wrote last year about Teacher Appreciation Week:

But underneath all of this is the fact that if parents and teachers truly united to seek improvement and change on shared goals, they would be unstoppable. The powers that be know this. That is why we read so many statements that attempt to chip away the faith of parents in their children's teachers, and in the teaching profession.

The message of Thursday's meeting was clear: we stand together.

Come on out tonight and be a part of the solution: improvement, change, shared goals.


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