I received a book in the mail a few days ago called “Mission Possible: How the Secret of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School”. I had no idea what it was really about but once I started reading it, I was overcome with a million questions. The book, written by Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia, chronicles their creation of a new type of public school in low-income areas of New York City. With a complete revision of how the majority of our public schools currently teach our children, the Success Academies are defying everything we have been told about educating our kids.
I’ve been one of those fortunate parents who have been able to volunteer my time in all three of my children’s public school classrooms over the years. I primarily worked in the kindergarten and 1st grade classes. As our children rise in grades, the parental involvement becomes less. Some teachers love having parents help out… others don’t. While I worked with the kids, I was also able to get a pretty good feel for the teachers and what they were experiencing. Are our teachers feeling stagnant in their job? I think many of them really are. In California where I live, there are very specific requirements, lesson plans, and discipline rules that often inhibit a teacher’s creativity and ability to control their classroom. Class sizes are high and children fall through the cracks. There seems to be a feeling of “let’s get them passed and graduated” rather than “let’s teach them to think for themselves so they’ll be able to go to college and make something of themselves.”
“Mission Possible” outlines some very specific ideas on educating our children. While we tend to spend a lot of time talking about holding our teachers accountable, what we are by-passing is the fact that we also need to hold our children accountable… and their parents… and their principals. It starts at the top, with a principal who is constantly educating himself as well as his teachers. The Success Academies that are sprouting up in New York City follow some incredibly simple and yet overlooked steps.
- The children are called scholars, not students.
- Teachers are well-trained and continue their training throughout the school year.
- The Grown-Ups are the main focus (teach the grown-ups and the knowledge will trickle down).
- Expectations are set HIGH.
- A child’s economic status has nothing to do with learning.
- More money does not equal a better education.
- Give children the answers and they won’t learn to think for themselves.
Some of the steps in the book are so simple you’ll wonder why your child’s public school isn’t doing them. I think as parents we all need to step it up a notch and start advocating for our kids and demand the education they need and deserve. It kills me to hear about these fabulous new schools, the constant education of teachers, the principals who spend the majority of their day helping and teaching and encouraging, rather than the ones I know who sit behind a desk and push paper all day. And we need school boards who are willing to try new things, listen to parent ideas and encourage our educators to be better than they are, to encourage our kids to strive to learn more, to get behind our principals and tell them what we currently are seeing in our schools isn’t good enough. We ALL can do better. We all MUST do better.
Instead of putting blame on our teachers, what if we encouraged them, trained them, enabled them to teach in a creative and fulfilling way for them. We tend to accept mediocrity as a society when we have the tools to go the extra mile. If you had a boss who sat behind a desk all day and never encourage you or helped you or provided extra training and feedback on how you were doing, would you slip into a state of mediocrity as well? Unfortunately, many of our teachers don’t feel appreciated. They don’t feel they are making a difference. We wouldn’t stand by and accept this from any other profession. Let’s not accept it from our schools either.
I know each and every one of my blog readers has a stake in the education of our children. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, have grandchildren in school, or plan to have kids someday, I know you will have an eye-opening experience reading this book. I know it changed the way I think and feel about my kids’ education.
Well, guess what? I am giving a copy of “Mission Possible: How the Secret of the Success Academies Can Work in Any School” away. This is easy, guys. Just leave me a comment telling me what you think of the state of education today. Do you think your local public schools are adequate? How do you feel about your teachers? Your principles? Let’s get this discussion moving in the right direction.
Winner will be chosen via random.org on Monday, August 6, 2012 at 12:00 noon California time. Please make sure I can reach you by email or twitter. You will have 24 hours to confirm contact and send me your mailing address or another winner will be chosen.
CONGRATULATIONS TRINA! YOU ARE THE WINNER OF THE MISSION POSSIBLE BOOK!
This giveaway is open to anyone in the U.S. or Canada. I will be shipping the book directly via media mail. Please note that media mail may take up to several weeks depending on your zip code. Book will ship from Santa Clarita, California.
I have been compensated for writing this post. All opinions that have been expressed are entirely my own. #readmissionpossible