There are four children who just left my office in DC. They are actual warriors and so they would probably hate being called children, but teachers and parents can call their children “children” until they graduate and then get jobs and then have children of their own – and even then they will be our children because no matter how young we were when they knew us, they will always think of us as the old guys and no matter how old they get, we will always see them with the eyes that saw them as children.
These four warrior children have been telling me how they are in DC to save lives. Maybe their grandparents’ lives. Maybe the lives of the children they hope to have someday. Maybe their own.
They are American Indian students who attend tribal schools in Idaho. They honor their community, and they intend to fight for it. They tell me a chemical company closed down and left a toxic superfund site behind. The EPA has “capped” the chemical waste with concrete and declared the problem solved. The people in the community think otherwise.
Idaho students Sequoia Dancer, Angel Teton, Cecilio Silveira, Deryk Broncho in Washington, DC
I have parents. I am a parent. I love parents. So, don’t get me wrong, but what’s up with the rash of stupid ideas on parent involvement in education?
When I was teaching in Utah, one legislator, one of our friends, one of our champions, someone who had fought beside teachers for class size reduction, school computers and reimbursements for supplies that teachers bought out of their own pockets, this guy I adored and respected developed a idea for a state law that would fine parents $5 for missing a parent-teacher conference.
He was surprised at my reaction. He thought I’d be high-fiving him. He said, “Well, every time I talk to a teacher, they complain about how few parents show to parent-teacher conferences. We need to hold parents accountable. This will give them an incentive to show up and get involved, and we’ll empower teachers if they can fine parents.”
That I know of, this man does not take drugs or drink heavily. So, let’s assume he’s serious and not delusional. I did talk him out of having a bill produced, but just barely. (more…)