12 August 2015

As My Oldest Son Starts High School, Here's What I'm Thinking

You know those tears a mom can't help but shed when her children head off to kindergarten? I had those tears again today as my oldest son set off for his first day of high school. I'm so proud of him and hopeful for his opportunities to continue pursuing his dreams and his goals.

I'm also still eager to press onward with the changes needed in our public education system, so he and my younger son, and all the other children/teens in America's public education system, can pursue their dreams and goals.

Last night, on the eve of his first day of high school, I showed him a few photographs from his first day of kindergarten, and he responded with "wow, you look younger!"  Though he and I have both grown older since 2006, I find myself asking...what has changed in public education since he started public school? Not much, really. Sure, there have been new initiatives, new standards, and new assessments, but the overall system is pretty much the same. The same as it was when I was in school and when you were in school, and when our grandparents were in school. In fact, the system has been largely the same since the 19th century. That's why I persist with asking questions, sharing my voice, and advocating for my children.

Three years ago on his first day of middle school, my son shared his queries in this What if post.

Today, I am asking what if....

The system didn't focus so much on tests?
Teachers were supported and compensated fairly?
We allowed our children/teens to learn from their mistakes ?
We encouraged more movement in our schools?
We stopped tracking students?
We changed the system?

*Note: I am not opposed to standards, and if you read this blog you will notice much of the work I've been doing in the past few years has been related to new standards. While standards have the potential to improve what students are taught, our entire system still needs to change to meet the learning experiences students must be offered in the 21st Century.