Everyone has things they really care about in this election year—and maybe these are very different things for you, for me, and for the parents of our children’s classmates. But one thing I think we should all be united on is education. Specifically, how to increase the odds that your child will get the teachers, special instruction, and emotional support to be well educated. What does it mean to be “well educated”? At the very least, I believe it means that a child can read with understanding, express his thoughts in clear writing, solve practical and more abstract math problems, communicate effectively, understand how the world works, get along with peers, and have an understanding of his strengths and weaknesses.
A tall order. And although I believe education is of primary importance, who’s talking about it on the campaign trail? NOBODY.
At the local level, we all need to understand our children’s school system—class size, budget, planned additions or cuts, who to communicate with if our child’s services are not sufficient or not working, etc.
At the national level, we should all be going to the websites of the major candidates and looking for information on their education platform. Here are some things I would dearly love to see:
- Increased standards for admission to, or graduation from, teacher training programs. I don’t know about you, but I am most concerned about how teachers are trained to teach math.
- Increased teacher mentoring, training, and support once they are on the job
- A commitment to small class sizes (no more than 18 children) and placing a paraprofessional in kindergarten through second grade. Small class size is correlated with better learning and performance in those grades (not a surprise!) and they are where foundation skills are mastered.
- Standards to measure not only progress, but also Services are often reduced or eliminated before they can be solidified. We wouldn’t take the cast off a broken leg after a week—children need time to not only improve, but to be able to maintain this improvement.
- More options for diversified learning using technology, starting in early grades
Yes, these things would cost money. That’s ok with me. There’s a great bumper sticker that says, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”. You may have a different list of priorities in education. That’s ok, too. I just want to know that education is on the platform of important issues that a candidate wants to address. I want to know that education is as important as tax policy, aircraft carriers, and fighting drug abuse. Free college isn’t much use if children don’t graduate high school with the necessary skills.
Parents of children with special needs, and those who work with them, have a lot at stake this election year. Our children’s futures are either important to the candidates, or not. I admit I haven’t heard anything yet about education, but I’m hopeful—and I plan to look at those websites. How about you?
As always, I welcome your comments or questions. Please feel free to share this blog with other parents or professionals who might be interested.