Right now, I find myself in a place where I have to stop trying to make a difference. I have realized that I cannot win this game. This year I spoke out about some teaching practices and administrative decisions that I disagreed with from my perspective as a parent and student advocate. I spoke out, not only for my students, but for the benefit of others. I have done this before, but not recently. I felt I was ready to do battle again. But, you know what they say about fighting city hall. It also applies to fighting a school system. I must have had some amnesia caused by the elapse of time since my last battle, so I forged ahead. I should have known better. My words, in repeated meetings, did not seem to make any difference for my students or others, essentially falling on deaf ears. Ears that belonged to the faces of those whose mouths said they wanted to listen. Listening took place, but hearing did not. The acknowledgement of a problem, yet nothing done to address it. Now, I am at a point where I need to ask for others to speak out. Sadly, I do not think that will happen. But ask, I must! Make no mistake, this is a call for action.
At the end of the academic year, I am still harboring frustrations, unfortunately. Most of the conversations to address the problems I brought to the attention of our leadership took place before the end of January. I have heard nothing has changed. I really do not understand this. I have a friend who is cognizant of the problems, but never spoke out. She says she will now – now that her last child has graduated. I hope she does. Only time will tell.
Lately, the educational process seems like a game to me. The wheel is spun, like in a game of roulette, and chances are taken on odds that will, most likely, not be of any benefit to our students. It really seems that instead of helping students to achieve, obstacles are being placed in order to get them to fail (or at least not do as well as they have the potential to do). This type of feeling or action, if indeed it is taking place, does not belong in any educational system.
I asked for data to be examined. It was finally looked at when I pushed and reminded over and over. Still, no real answers were provided. I doubt they have returned to look at the data since our conversation took place. You see, there is a class numerous students drop and/or fail or repeat. Students that have done well above average in the subject area in past courses as well as on standardized tests and college entrance exams, all of a sudden are no longer performing like they had in the past. Many have experienced this. Few, if any, are speaking out like we did. I know the reason all to well. Retribution. It is taking place and must stop. Please! Parents speak out. Nothing will change unless you bring concerns forward. I was not successful in doing so, but maybe you will be. Please try. I am begging you.
It is very strange to me that students who were at the top of their class in elementary school and middle school, now have to fight to get an A (94.5% – 97.5%) or A+. It is not that the grade has become elusive. It has become elusive for them – the former high achievers. Are they being held to a different, higher standard? Some might say so. I know it seems so to some students. I hope it is not the case, but this thought recurs to me over and over. Unfortunately, based on my experience, I know now that I will not say anything about it.
While everything under the sun is done to assist the struggling student, what happens for our average or high potential or gifted students? Unfortunately, not much. They are left to wallow in their own diminishing self-confidence. As a parent of high potential, or even, gifted students, I am tired of the concessions made for other students, concessions made to “get them through”. There is little flexibility and effort made to meet the needs of the high-end students. It is truly frustrating.
A few years ago, my husband asked me to stop advocating for all students and worry about our own. This mainly was because he saw two things. One was that he saw how frustrated I would become with our system. And, two, it seemed that others only advocate for their own students, not all students in general, or for the betterment of the system. Of course, we don’t know that for sure, but it does seem like this is so. Even if we are not alone in our quest for improvement, we seem to be alone in advocating for students other than our own. I told him that I would try, I did not know that I could. And this past fall, when an old problem reared its ugly head yet again, I did not stop. I tried, yet again, to make a difference – a difference for all students. Once again, I was not successful. Now, I must stop. Therefore, it becomes imperative that others try. Please.