Monday, November 16, 2009

My PTA Pitch

Those of you who follow this blog are probably aware of how steamed I am about NCLB (The Federal No Child Left Behind Act) mainly because it mandates how/what a teacher must teach, and has resulted in a stale "teaching to the test" curriculum in our public schools. This method of teaching is detrimental to our children because it stifles creativity and critical thinking, and hinders meaningful learning. As a former teacher, I can tell you that things have really changed in public education, and I don't like what I see. When I taught elementary art 10 years ago in urban Allentown schools, students put on plays in the classroom, made art projects, science and history were important subjects, and there was teaching across the curriculum (i.e. integration of all subjects to help kids make connections and be engaged in learning.) I don't see this happening at my son's school, and I am not happy about it.

Should parents just accept the crummy curriculum? Well, the NCLB Act is law until 2012, so there is not much we can do about what is taught in the classroom. I am not happy about the fact that Obama has not just done away with NCLB altogether. That would be REAL CHANGE I could believe in.

There is a way parents can have a voice, and try to fill the creativity void: get involved with your school's PTA. That's where you can develop enrichment activities and programs for kids. And the kids really need it. I serve on the Board of my son's school PTA, and I chair the Reflections Art Program, Craft Day, and help with most special events. We just had a really cool science program for the kids at our last PTA meeting. Find your niche, and volunteer, even if it's just an hour a week, it does make a big difference. There are many committees and opportunities for parents and community members. It is very rewarding work, and the kids really do appreciate it.

The National PTA has important purposes and goals:

To promote the welfare of the children and youth in home, school, community, and place of worship.
To raise the standards of home life.
To secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
To bring into closer relation the home and the school, that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth.
To develop between educators and the general public such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual education.