Starting a Parent Revolution

04/29/2011 06:32 pm ET | Updated Jun 29, 2011

The familiar is comforting to us. We don't fear what we have experienced before, the known. When we as parents visit our kids' school, it's no wonder that we feel that the schools are fine. Most of us attended the same type of schools; the setting is familiar. The rooms have desks with attached chairs, notebooks, textbooks, crayons, pencils, blackboards, etc. -- perfect images of how school was when we were kids. The way schools communicate with parents is also the same. They send us a notice on paper in our kids' backpacks or on a notebook, and even that is exactly like how our parents got the notes.

What's wrong with this picture?

Our kids today have more access to information at their fingertips than we ever did, but the schools have done woefully little to keep up with the information revolution. Why are teachers still giving assignments that can be solved by one simple Google Search? We are so used to the concept of school being the same as it was in our youth that we don't notice, don't think about, how desperately it needs to change. I am not saying that schools should be inundated with the latest technological gadgets, but that the basic premise of our education system needs to change.

  1. We need to meet students where they are, which is a more advanced place than we were at the same age.

  • Parents need to be engaged and schools need to do more to engage them. This means moving beyond notices in backpacks to seeking parents' input.
  • We need to put the T back in the PTA -- or even evolve the 100-plus-year organization.
  • We need to move away from standardized tests because our kids aren't standard. They are vibrant, fast moving, and extremely informed.
  • We need to get out of our kids' way. We need to let education be driven by the kids' needs, not what we think schools should look like. Parents need to embrace a vision of schools of the future and push to make that a reality. We need a parent revolution. Are you with me?

    Many parents struggle with the notion that they can change the system. It is hard to imagine that one person can affect the system in a positive manner. It is especially hard to envision change when many other like-minded parents choose to abandon public schools instead of fighting to make them better.

    Here are some things each one of us as parents can do to help improve the schools:

    1. Question standardized testing -- especially those that deliver the tests after the school year if over. What good does that do?

  • Be a problem parent and discuss your concerns. I know we are often afraid of the teacher because we don't want any backlash. However, if none of us express concern over an assignment that makes no sense, then nothing will ever change.
  • Understand how the regulations and reform laws affect you.
  • More than ever, this is the time to get involved in your kids' schools. Teachers sometimes mistakenly believe that parents view schools and teachers as babysitters; parents need to change that perception by being engaged.
  • Fight for good, well-paid teachers. They are shaping the future of our children. Teachers are amongst the least paid professionals. Would you like your child to be a teacher? If the answer is no, then the situation needs to change, and fast.
  • Every parent needs to actively engage and ask for change. We simply can't be bystanders anymore. Our children's future is at stake.

    The post originally appeared on Parentella's blog.