Parents and Children Magazine Article, Anchorage
PARENTS, CHILDREN, AND SCHOOLS
Children are a Gift from God entrusted to the care of parents for a proper upbringing. Children don’t belong to Washington DC, or Juneau, or the local school district. Parents are responsible for educating their children, and no one else. The school system, the principal, and their teacher are merely agents of the parents. Sometimes the school establishment gets things backward, and believes parents are responsible to the school. That’s not so. Schools are responsible to parents. When parents need to resolve a situation about their child with the school, the first step is to contact the teacher, followed by the building principal, school superintendent, the elected school board, and finally one of your elected local or state representatives.
The most important education a child will ever receive begins at home at childbirth, continues through the growing years. As “empty nesters” can tell you, a good parent continues to “educate” their children forever. Obviously, some parents have better parenting skills than others. Excepting criminal or dangerous activity, a parent is allowed to make some mistakes and misjudgments – parents learn along with their children. A good family learns together.
In a manner of speaking, every child is home schooled by parents. In most cases, home schooling is augmented by regular attendance at a public or private school. In some cases, children are home schooled without formal school augmentation. The point is, parents are responsible for their child’s education, whatever the setting.
There is a limited amount of time in the school day, and an unlimited amount to learn. There’s no shortage of groups with a social agenda that have a “felt need” to insert (or even force) their particular social, cultural, behavioral, or political views into the curriculum. Some of these agendas fail to be age appropriate. This doesn’t happen unless parents abdicate their responsibility and parental rights.
It’s impossible for anyone to be totally neutral, on any subject. But common sense tells us that, if a child learns basic reading (and later learns to read critically), and learns the lessons of history, that child will mature into a person who can make up their own mind on controversial issues of the day. A well rounded education will include music, the arts, science, sports, and the American civics that make us a great nation.
The maxim “all men are created equal” applies to human dignity and the Sacredness of Life. One goal of education is help a child to learn to the maximum of their individual potential, whatever that God-given potential is. Too many children, due to poverty or neglect, never realize how wonderful their potential might be. That leads to underachieving in school and life. It’s true that each of us, young and old alike, must learn how to “bloom where we are planted.” A teacher (or parent) who helps a child “bloom” has responded to the highest calling of their vocation.
We live in a competitive society. America is founded on the principle of equality of opportunity, not equality of results. A child who doesn’t learn how to compete – or isn’t allowed to safely “fail” – is ill prepared for life in the “real world.” There is no such thing as real failure, if a learning experience results. It’s not how often one fails that counts, but how often one can fail and still succeed.
A quality education certainly requires adequate funding, but money alone doesn’t guarantee quality schools. More important is adequate parenting, and parent-school communication. Parents must never be outside the educational loop. Above all, a school must be a safe place to learn, with a classroom environment that promotes learning. If there is one magic answer to insuring a quality education, it is active participation of parents.
It’s “Back to School Time” for students, and it’s also “Back to School Time” for parents. There’s a wonderful group of dedicated and hardworking teachers in our schools, and Alaska has the best. Teachers have professional credentials, but parents possess their children’s birth credentials – and responsibility - for their children. If things don’t go “right” at school, the parent is responsible for the acts of the school, as the school is their agent.
Bob Lynn has a Master’s Degree in Educational Education, is a retired public school teacher in both regular and special education, and a candidate for the Alaska Legislature in District 31.