Thursday, October 3, 2013

Are you your child's best advocate?

This evening I participated in a town hall meeting regarding North Carolina's new legislative initiative, Read To Achieve. In short it mandates that 3rd graders that are not reading on grade level will be held back.  These students will be given the chance to attend summer reading camps (not mandatory) that will be devoted to getting them on level.  If at the end of the six weeks they are up to par they will be allowed to move to the 4th grade, if not, they will have to repeat the 3rd grade.  The forum was hosted by First Baptist Church West and in attendance from Charlotte Mecklenburg School System were Deputy Superintendent Ann Clark, Community Superintendent (West) Allen Smith and NC Senator Malcolm Graham. The purpose of this forum as well as several planned forums is to make sure that parents are aware of this new legislation, especially parents of 3rd graders, such as myself.

One of the attendees asked the question, "Are you all (school system) prepared to deal with the outpouring of feelings and comments at the end of this year of parents that don't know about this law?" It is something I thought about when I read the letter that is posted on my son's school's website before the school year started.  The same letter was sent home during the first week of school, but I'm sure not all parents received or read that letter.  It brings me to one of the challenges, better yet, responsibilities of being a parent, being your child's best advocate.  Are we waiting to be told and spoon fed everything, or are we taking the initiative in seeking out policies, regulations, responsibilities, expectations, resources, etc.? Often times parents rely on the school to give them all of the information that would be helpful for their children, but why is it solely the responsibility of the school.  Yes, they are aware of many tools that are available, but what about being proactive?  As I mentioned above I found the information about the new legislation on the school's website.  Let me be clear, I don't visit the site as often as I should, I was honestly only there to see when Open House was because I was trying to plan an end of summer vacation.  But on the site there is a host of information about the school as well as links to the system's site. On my recent post about the public library I highlighted a few of the many FREE resources that are made available, just through having a library card, which is free. The public libraries appear to be a underutilized resource, but it is readily available to all.  

We make the time to plan vacations, strategically tackle Black Friday, research the pros and cons of the iPhone versus the Samsung Galaxy, etc, are we doing the same for our children? Not that we are going to uncover every resource and opportunity but are we putting forth the effort that our children deserve?