I was recently North Carolina’s delegate to Parenting magazine’s Mom Congress. I didn’t get to wear a sash or a crown, but there was no swimsuit competition so for that I am grateful. I was thrilled to travel to Washington, D.C. and cavort with fellow mom activists who are leading the charge on education reform. I was humbled to be a part of this remarkable crew and left the Mom Congress with a fire in my heart.
Moms on a Mission.
I have always been idealistic to a fault. My brother and my father, whom I grew up with so I am used to being the sole woman among testosterone, accused me of being emotional and idealistic. It was, and still is, the truth. I either fail to see human weaknesses or get mired in them, all the while wishing for justice and fairness. I am passionate about social justice issues and hate that education has become yet another political pawn. Education is the cornerstone of EVERYTHING. It plays no role in politics and is integral to the whole “pursuit of happiness” thing in our Constitution. America will fail as long as politicians view education as an expense and not as an investment. Our budgets represent our values. Period. Quite simply, our budgets are short changing our kids. Here come my idealistic views again…
Education must be valued, revered, and prioritized. Education for ALL, that is. I believe in educational equity. I have always believed that what is fair is what is right. This is why I have so much gray hair.
- Someone drops out of school in America every 26 seconds. I might have audibly gasped when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told us that.
- 1 in 4 students does not get a high school diploma.
- All but 9 states cut funding to education. What are those nine states, by the way? I might want to move there.
- The United States ranks 27th out of 43 industrialized nations in early childhood education.
- We are in the midst of a poverty crisis. We see so many people in need and find the energy to judge rather than help.
So where do we go? What do we do? How do we turn moms into moons to turn the tide?
We engage. We talk. We write. We speak out. We speak up.
Education used to be about the “3 Rs.” Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic. I actually have always hated that saying. I suppose the irony of cutesy misspellings is lost on this stickler. These days, I think the 3 Rs are Reading, Respect, and Rigor.
Reading - It’s no secret that books are full of magic. Let’s teach our children a love of words. We must put books into the hands of children and focus on early childhood education and literacy. This is exponentially more critical when it comes to children who live in poverty. Nary a surface of my house is free of books. I love it that way.
Respect – Parents and teachers are partners who care about the “whole child.” We must respect each other to work in concert. Let’s shed our notions of blame and power struggles. Successful schools foster parent engagement and are places that have a welcoming culture. Schools need a mutually respectful environment for parents and teachers to listen to each other and work together for a common goal. We need more bridges and fewer roadblocks.
Rigor – Education is a lifelong value, not a destination where you get your passport stamped. We must foster this mindset among our children. Kids rise to the bar we set for them. Let’s set high expectations, challenge our students, open their minds, and spark a sense of curiosity. We must teach children a love for learning. The tests will take care of themselves. Standardized testing sucks the life out of a classroom and do not necessarily demonstrate skill, rigor, and rich curiosity.
There are legions of dedicated, smart, engaged people ready to advocate for schools, for kids, for teachers, for education. We are ready to start a revolution (no beheadings or firearms, but we are on fire). Let me be clear, by “revolution” I mean we are united for a common goal. We are not here to fight or blame or denigrate. We value education and the teaching profession and have a fierce passion to lift up our communities through education. We believe knowledge is indeed power. We walk together and fight for all the children, not just our own. We are not “just moms.” We are MOMS ON A MISSION.