Mama Goes to Mom Congress–An Insider’s Look
posted by: Guest Blogger
This year I began my education activism in earnest. My tipping point was when my youngest daughter’s school defended their worksheet-based, everyone does the same thing, curriculum. After being rebuffed by the school, I used my blog to express my feelings. And, I’ll tell you – that got their attention, even though that was not my intention, and the attention was not positive. As a result, I felt helpless to make positive change, and I didn’t know what to do differently.
So, it was with enormous anticipation that I attended Parenting Magazine’s second Mom Congress on Education and Learning, representing Colorado. I wondered, about making change in the school system. I wanted to know how do I stand up for my kids? And, is it possible to do it without being labeled a trouble maker? Or “that” mom?
So last week, Mom Congress brought together 51 amazing mom-delegates from all over the country, each passionate about different aspects of education – some bullying, some special education, some better teachers. All of us had stories and experience. Knowing the other delegates inspired me more than I could have imagined.
And then there were the educational leaders and advocates who spoke with us; people like U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Mrs. Q, and the groups, Let’s Move!, Students First, Reach Out and Read, National PTA, National Education Association, National Head Start Association, PBS, Jumpstart, Jamie Oliver, STEM, PBS, RIF, The Gates Foundation, and NBC Learn.
- Mrs. Q. She literally was the most inspirational mom of us all. As a busy mom and teacher, she couldn’t seem to pack a lunch so she started buying school lunch. Then, she started blogging about her lunch – and took
photos of each tray of food. What happened was that Mrs. Q. went from being an average, middle-of-the-road mom with no opinion on school lunch to a well-informed, vocal blogger and activist about the poor nutrition and terrible quality of
school lunches – which for some kids make up a large percentage of their diets. Find out more about Mrs. Q on her blog, Fed Up With Lunch. li>
- Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan seems to really “get” it — I thought he’d be a typical suit but what he said did impress me like wanting to fix No Child Left Behind and stop over testing.
- I’m a big Michelle Rhee fan. Not because she’s perfect
but I admire her guts to say the hard things, to say the truth that ineffective teachers
are bad for kids and shouldn’t be teaching. Hearing her talk made me think – and I’m
still thinking. To her, there’s not point in keeping teachers and trying to
professionally develop them because kids suffer while the teacher is
being “developed.” Her speech and the discussion is on my blog, Imagination Soup.
1. We must all be advocates.
2. We can’t do it alone – we need a group of people in order to be heard.
3. We must all be advocates.
4. We must all be advocates.
5. Find your message – what you care about – then gather your chorus of voices.
6. Until the community (that’s you and me) say enough is enough, NOTHING will change. (Isn’t the proof in the pudding?)
The Call to Action
As for me, I’ll keep doing what I’m already doing – spreading the word by blogging about education and best practices, resources and information. Frankly, if bloggers can change politics, why not education?
I’m also very interested in helping put some new teacher evaluation methods in place. Without good ways of evaluating teachers, schools can’t reward and retain the excellent teachers. Not only that, I REALLY want a better method for evaluating principals. Do you know that teachers and parents don’t get to give input on a principal? Only their district supervisor who pops in to the school occasionally is his or her evaluator. Talk about a worthless evaluation!
Oh, and my biggest change will be to gather other like-minded parents around me and stand with them. One person versus twenty? Twenty will have more power. Five hundred would be even better.
Okay, I could go on but I’d really like to hear from you. What about you? What will you do?
*Find Mom Congress on Facebook.
*Find Imagination Soup on Facebook.
Melissa Taylor writes about education-related topics at her award-winning playful learning blog, Imagination Soup, and for publications such as Scholastic Parent and Child, Babble.com, Colorado Parent Magazine and others. She’s the Book Editor-at-Large for Colorado Parent Magazine, writing their book review blog, Bookmarkable and a former teacher with a M.A. in Education.