3/5/12

Why I'm running for school board.

A couple of years ago, I had an issue.

My son's education was not progressing as I thought it should. Before the start of 2nd grade, his class, went from 3 teachers down to 2. Owen is a great student, but the added students in his class allowed him to sit unchallenged. His grades were fine, but his test scores went down. He'd bring home elaborate drawings of the rain forests, and of his beloved Minnesota Vikings football players. He'd tell me he drew those while he "was waiting." Worse than that, for me, was that Owen, who typically loved school, didn't want to go anymore. He didn't talk about what he learned during dinner, like he used to. For the first time in his young life, he was no longer excited about school.

I communicated with his stressed out teacher. She was busy teaching a large group of needy 2nd graders so she, quickly, assured me Owen was doing fine.  I knew otherwise. I grew more & more worried that, my boy, who had always loved learning, was going to be permanently turned off of school. Finally, when his final report card showed a significant drop in his test scores, I wrote letters to the principal and to each school board member, asking them to please reconsider the consolidation of Owen's class. 

Within a few days, I heard from the lack luster elementary school principal. He reminded me that Owen's test scores were still "well above average second graders." He also told me, I needed to expect that Owen would eventually "peak."  I was stunned and super annoyed that this "educator" was trying to convince me to accept that my child had "peaked" in second grade. I hung up pissed off & even more confused about what I should to do.  

Luckily, the very next day, Mo Grimm, a member of the school board, called concerned for me and Owen. She asked questions, she listened to my concerns, she shared her experiences as a mother, and she explained the challenges that faced the school board. She didn't make any promises or even give me many alternatives to consider, but she made me feel like my instincts about Owen were valid. She assured me she would make an informed decision based on the needs of all children. I hung up feeling heard and respected.

The conversation didn't end up getting the Owen's Class of 2020 another teacher, but it did have a lasting impact on me. I decided to attend as many school board meetings as possible, because I wanted to show support for the important job they are doing. I didn't want to be a parent who only showed up when I had something to bitch about. The conversation with Mo, and the meetings I've attended in the last few years, have given me a real sense of why genuinely concerned people need to be part of the school board.  It's not about mill rates, test scores & teacher salaries. Being part of the school board means, ultimately, directly effecting the education of children in your community. It's an important job. One to not take lightly, but one to approach with an open mind and without a hidden agenda.

On April 3rd, 2012, my name will be on the ballot for a vacant school board seat. As a member of the school board, I plan to listen and learn, just as Mo did during that conversation, almost 2 years ago. My only agenda item is this: Do what is best for children in our district. 




10 comments:

  1. Yeah, yeah, yeah! So glad that you will be there! It IS about the kids, our kids, others kids,ALL the kids!

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  2. Thanks! I hope I don't disappoint.

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  3. I would vote for you if I could. I've worked in a district with a bunch of yahoos on the school board, and they put their political agendas before the needs of kids. School boards need people like YOU - smart, concerned, passionate, and not willing to accept mediocrity. You go, girl!

    PS: "Peak"? What the heck? Does anyone ever peak? I've lived my life learning and trying to become a better person and I don't think I'm close to peaking... I'm putting that principal on my list entitled "Principals who should think about careers outside of education, WAY outside."

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    1. Yeah, he was quite a guy.

      I totally agree with you, I continue to learn and grow with every new person I meet, and every experience I have. I, too, am far from my summit. It's sad to imagine a world where kids "peak" while they're in school!

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  4. Been there, done this and good for you stepping up to the plate. The parents that complain about everything, while not doing anything at all ... don't get me started.
    (btw, we homeschool now!)

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    1. Glad to hear, I'm not the only crazy one willing to step up rather than sit back!

      Oh no, that homeschooling thing wouldn't be for me. My poor kids would have to major in one of two things: swearing or emotional eating! My hat goes off to homeschooling mom.

      I. COULD. NOT. DO. IT!

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  5. I just found your blog by clicking various links starting at the Mineral Point Market's facebook page. My son is in your daughter's class. I couldn't help replying to this post, because it is a relief to hear that someone else had a big problem with the ex-principal. So glad he's gone.

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    1. Hello! I'm so glad you found my page. Yeah, I really felt like he was a bit off base when it came to doing what was best for kids, and a bit reactive when it came to trying new things. I find all of the new administrators really open to exploring new paths and have more proactive attitudes. It's very refreshing. It gives me renewed faith in the district and feeds my energy to continue to give back.

      I hope to meet you in person someday. Thanks for the support!

      Julie

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    2. I agree with your assessment, and I also found him rude to parents. My husband and I toasted his departure.

      My youngest will be starting pre-K this fall, and I will be getting more involved at school, so I'm sure you'll see me around! We'll also be at the farmer's market, so if you're there and Sophie sees Beren, come over and say hi. We'll do the same.

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I can't wait to hear from you!