Public school parents do care, need help

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 28, 2008

It seems like educating a child in the public schools these days would border on impossible if you read the news or attend some of the public meetings around town.

I’m deeply troubled by the notion that parents in the public school system aren’t concerned and don’t care about the quality of their children’s educations.

Lately, public meetings and articles have painted a picture that portrays us all as being unconcerned parents who ignore the importance of a good, quality education. There are dedicated, hardworking parents who devote a lot of their time and energy to educating and supporting their children. As parents we recognize the problems and concerns but don’t have answers to the challenges we’re facing.

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We can quickly identify the problems, short comings and imperfections of the system yet we fail to come up with a solution to these problems we so readily point out.

Could the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 be a part of our problem? This act was designed to improve the education of needy children in public schools. A one-size-fits-all test will only lower, not raise, standards for most students and punish our teachers. The schools need adequate funding to be successful.

Not all of us can abandon the public school system nor do we want to. How do we as parents decide that private institutions are better at educating our children when tests results for all schools are not made available for comparison?

My son will graduate from Natchez High School in May 2009, as the fourth child in my family to earn a high school diploma in the public school system. And, like the ones that have gone before him, he will further his education and take his place in society as a law abiding, hardworking individual with hopes and dreams for the future like anybody else.

We have got to find a way to make public schools work. And, unless we stop the lip service and finger pointing, we are failing an entire generation of young people. Our schools need quality teachers, a good support staff, significant parental involvement, smaller class sizes, quality after-school programs, quality early childhood education and smart, unselfish leadership to improve.

The needs of the system are well understood; we get it. Unless someone has a real plan to change this situation to better our young men and women, enough said.

In other words, “put up or shut up!”

Rita Brooks is a Natchez resident and mother of an NHS student.