Children with No Adult Advocates
I recently read this Washington Post blog in which UNC education professor Bill McDiarmid responds to an experience during an after-discussion following the movie, “Waiting for ‘Superman’.” He begins by reminding us that, although the children in the film may not get into the school they hope for, what is important to remember is that many children have no adult in their lives who will advocate for them at all. McDiarmid asserts clearly and without a doubt to the reader how integral parent support is to any child’s growth and development. He writes:
Arguably, the success that some charter schools and other independent schools have achieved may be attributed in large part to a common stipulation: that students’ caretakers participate actively in their children’s education. Indeed, the fact that students in these alternative schools have caretakers who actively seek out the best educational opportunity for their charges contributes substantially to the positive outcomes of the schools.
His statement in this blog causes me to think about my own teaching experiences in a magnet school and about my experiences attending the meetings that are going in on in Montgomery right now called Believe It Montgomery, which is a local effort to create a pact between the community and the school system. I witness every year what McDiarmid describes, and I also know that no matter how many applicants we get every year there are still more students who want to apply but can’t do it alone. A parent or guardian has to fill out and sign the application.
On a similar note, last Friday night, I attended a Believe It community meeting at Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church and some of the most vocal insistence came about needing more parent involvement in order to curb disciplinary problems and improve safety at the schools; the idea that was stated over and over was that, if more parents and guardians were involved in their kids’ lives, we wouldn’t be facing a lot of the problems we’re facing, in schools and out. One woman said unequivocally that too many immature and inexperienced kids are making adult decisions about their lives because the adults in their lives aren’t stepping up to make those decisions for them.
I have written before about how important parental involvement is. These words by a professor of education reinforce my belief yet again. When I audition students for my program, I ask, but don’t require, that a parent or guardian come to the audition, too, mainly to answer any of their questions as well. I assure them that we are a team in educating this young person – student, parent and teacher – and all of the pistons have to be firing for it to work. McDiarmid wrote what a lot of educators already know, but too few people acknowledge in the wider public discussions about education: all of the adults on these children’s lives have to do their jobs.