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"I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation." – U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009

Students and Parents: Education Can’t Change Without You

Much of the talk about education reform has focused on teachers and what they can do to help kids be successful in school. A lot is expected from teachers. They are expected to present material that is engaging, plan hands-on classroom activities, would have conversations with their students, keep up to date on the latest teaching techniques and resources, connect emotionally with their students, and provide encouragement and support. If that lengthy sentence had you feeling exhausted, think of how teachers must feel. Indeed, teachers are in the hot seat when it comes to education reform. But what many people have failed to recognize is that education reform does not rely solely on teachers. In fact, change can only come about with the combined effort of teachers, students, and parents.

What can students do to help? Take initiative and bring your student voice. Speak out and get involved in the talk, the decisions. Education is for the students, and any changes that are made will impact you. Communicate what you want your education to be like. What works/doesn’t work in the classroom for you? What changes can be made to help you succeed? Without your voice you’re like a crying infant, and policymakers are like the mother who is trying to guess what her baby needs. Policymakers are not the ones going to school everyday; you are the expert on schooling.

Parents. Become actively involved in your child’s education and show your support. Communicate with your child’s teacher and know what your child is doing at school. Try to understand your child’s passions, interests, and struggles. Do what you can at home to help them succeed in school. You’re afterschool pick-up conversation shouldn’t just be, ‘did you have fun in school today?’ ‘yep.’ I encourage you to dig deeper. Too many parents drop off their kid at school and make their child’s education the school’s responsibility; it’s passive almost, but it certainly shouldn’t be this way. If you and your child are investing this much time and energy in education, it doesn’t make sense to go through the motions.

If students can voice their opinions and if parents can follow through, I think we’ll be able to connect some pieces of this education reform puzzle.

What are the other missing pieces?

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