I don’t have children, but every August I find myself sponsoring a classroom and donating supplies such as pencils, loose leaf, and hand sanitizer. I buy glue, crayons, and disinfecting wipes. I donate Target gift cards and bottles of Windex. This year is no exception, and I’ve just returned from my annual trek to Target and Walgreens.
Unfortunately, I’m growing increasingly hostile to requests for back-to-school supplies. I pay property taxes. I obey the speed limit in school zones. I don’t smack your mouthy kids when they misbehave at the mall. I do everything I’m asked to do as an American citizen, but my local school district still comes up short.
When you are a parent, you become a champion, an advocate, and an advisor for your children and their peer group. It’s a full-time job on top of your already crappy full-time job that barely keeps your family afloat, and I understand how it’s easier to accept the status quo than to fight against the insane bureaucracies of local school boards, teachers unions, and state & federal regulations.
I would like to be your advocate, but it feels like some of you have given up on public school system. You complain about schools in America, you worry about educating your children for the 21st century workforce, and you accept charity for your schools (on top of local, state, and federal money) instead of fighting for what’s right.
Instead of asking the community to donate Elmer’s glue, ask for
- fair distribution of property taxes so that education in your state is based on a level playing field.
- up-to-date textbooks and computers.
- toilets that flush.
- playgrounds that aren’t toxic brownfields.
- teachers who are certified.
I don’t have children, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t care about public schools in America. I will fight for you as a parent and help you to implement changes in your school district, but I need something in return. I need you to
- teach your kids that going to school is a full-time job.
- require that your kids be taught context and refuse to allow your kids to be taught to standardized tests.
- vote for experts instead of ideologues to sit on local school boards.
- demand parental leave from the government so you can take time off to be involved in your child’s life.
- stop projecting your failed hopes and aspirations on your kids —and encourage your children to aspire to be scientists and engineers instead of actors, pop culture icons, and consumers.
I want to do more than buy hand sanitizer for your kids, but I can’t assume the role of parent and change the American educational system without your help. I would rather spend $30 on an updated text book than on spiral notebooks and loose leaf for your kids who don’t know how to write cursive, anyway.
Are there any parents out there who really want my help? Let me know.