Thursday, March 12, 2009

Public Education: A Three Legged Stool

R-Five (Speed) left a great comment regarding what will the district do with the extra money, if "Parents" start providing equipment ? I guess my answer has to do with a "3 legged stool" and relative levels of "Excellence".

The 3 legs of School Excellence are:
  • Parent involvement and support
  • Administration and teaching priorities, planning and execution
  • Public involvement and support

From my viewpoint the Public is doing a pretty good job of supporting the financial aspects of the RAS schools. Sure it took some work, however the Federal, State and Community citizens are spending a lot of money on our schools/kids. Maybe not enough to make them incredible, however certainly enough to make them good solid schools that can provide a solid core and advanced curriculum. An area for continued improvement is volunteering as mentors/tutors for kids that a struggling...

The Board, Administration, Teachers and other employees are taking on the challenge of reducing fixed costs by closing schools and dealing with ever increasing expectations. There are still many productivity gains that can be made by holding personnel accountable and improving our focus on the core programs/deliverables. However RAS is definitely heading in the right direction.

The majority of parents however seem to have lost their way. I am not sure if it is all the 2 income families, folks lacking a sense of parental responsibility, the overloaded schedules, the need to "keep up with the Jones's", or what... However, financial giving and volunteering seems to be headed the wrong direction. My guess is:

  • less than 10% volunteer outside their child's site
  • less than 3% volunteer more than 40 hrs/yr
  • less than .5% volunteer more than 100 hrs/yr
  • less than 20% give 90% of the PTO's funding
  • average donation = ~$50/child/yr

Unless the parents step up more, their school's will at best be "Good". (ie wobbly stool) Also, why should the public keep supporting the schools if the parents don't think it is important enough to make it a priority?

Time for a Video (Totally improper politically incorrect video that applies to many of us - even myself at times... Thanks to Freedom Dogs for the link) With this in mind, how do us men, women, black, white, liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, etc stop waiting for someone to fix our communities and schools !!! So let the Public funds support the things to make the school's very good. And I hope the parent's money and volunteering can make them GREAT !!!

As always, all thoughts welcome ...


Anonymous said...

Interesting post, and I agree entirely.

I volunteer with the schools in several capacities, because I think it's both my responsibility and my privilege. I've found volunteering tremendously rewarding and my time is appreciated.

I truly believe if more people volunteered on an ongoing basis, there would be much less grousing about the problems and much more working toward realistic solutions. We'd see less shrill finger pointing and a stronger sense of community.

Speaking for myself, the more I understand firsthand the day to day complexities, challenges, dynamics, personalities, etc--the more committed I feel to provide support, guidance, financial resources.

R-Five said...

Oh, oh, my secret commenter identity may be compromised. Some random thoughts:

Volunteering is fun! Or it should be, like briefly having a huge family.

Support should be things we can do that the District cannot, like cheering at a sports event or applauding at a class play. And chatting with other parents while we're there and spending some money at the concessions to support the boosters.

To simply buy things for the school per se doesn't inspire me, with some exceptions, like maybe a new musical instrument or two, for direct use by a student, taking a class. Playground equipment - the city parks have that, it's nothing all that special.

I'll agree that the parents have the obligation to get involved. But we can't morally demand involvement from the public at large. We can only make the case, see who shows up.

John said...

I agree whole heartedly that volunteering is fun. And that we can not directly change others.(I learned that the hard way.)

My coaching mantra is:
- explain the behavior that is problematic (make aware)
- explain potential good/bad consequences for them (why change)
- provide improvement ideas (how)
- then let them change or not, and the consequences will occur

Often Supervisors and coaches only provide 1 or 2 of these. Which leaves folks unmotivated to change or with no idea on how to proceed...

Any thoughts on how to use this mantra to get more RAS citizens to become more involved in their community affairs ?

I see a large majority of folks standing on the escalator. Though I truly appreciate those who choose to start walking and fixing.