Monday, December 1, 2008

In Case You Wondered....

This post is to set a few things straight for those of you who don't know me. I am a mom. I have three great kids who are 5th grade, 3rd grade, and a pre-k. I am married to a elementary school teacher in the Camdenton School District. Yep, that is right. My husband is a teacher in Dogwood and Hawthorn Elementary Schools. So, for any of you who have guessed that making trouble for the school is just a recently acquired hobby that I enjoy, you are wrong. (My husband loves his job, and like so many other teachers is called to do what he does. He truly has a heart for children. Anyone who knows him will agree.) My father-in-law, my mother-in-law, and my brother-in-law...all teachers/administrators in the Camdenton School District. We are Lakers through and through. My husband is a PROUD Camdenton Graduate. He went to Camdenton all of his school-aged life.

I say all of that to say...When I stood up and pointed out that I thought there was a problem, I did not realize that anyone else felt the same way I did when all of this began a few weeks ago. It was not an easy decision to question my husband's employer. However, since then I have received phone calls from strangers who have shared their stories of frustration with me. I have cried with you in the aisles of Wal-Mart as you have confided in me your heartache. I have been floored to find out that some of my best friends were suffering from the same woes scholastically that my children have faced. I had no idea that there were so many of us. It is not all about the math. I know that. A LOT of you have told me about how hopeless you feel about the reading....and I feel your pain. I know exactly how you feel. I have been overwhelmed with how many of us are in the same boat. I am humbled that my message resonated with so many of you. I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with those of you all expecting accountability and some answers alongside me.

Being that my husband is a teacher, and my mother and father-in-laws have dedicated their working lives to this district I have many, many friends in Camdenton who are teachers. Some of our best friends are teachers. So...for those of you who question my relationships with the teachers and are so offended that the teachers confide their concerns and frustrations in me, realize that they are not only lifelong friends of my family but, I am related to some of them. I actually share my bed with one of them. Having my husband work in Dogwood and Hawthorn Elementary Schools...he cannot help but be immersed in the goings-on of those buildings. I know what is going on because he knows what is going on.

Several times it has been said that I went about this the "wrong way". My response is pretty simple...What is the right way? When you see your children struggling, and there appears to be no answers...what is the right way? Did I ever wish to be in this position? Of course not. Did I ever dream that so many others shared my same frustrations? Never. Is it much fun asking the hard questions to your husband's employer? What do you think? Not fun at all. But, is it necessary? ABSOLUTELY! It is for the well being of my children and yours. There are questions to be answered. There are gaps that need to be filled. There are things that need to be changed. In my opinion this whole issue could turn out to be a good thing for everyone.

For those of you who have posted comments on how we are setting a bad example for our children...I could not disagree more. Some of us tell our kids that "just because everyone else is jumping off of the cliff doesn't mean you should, too." Some of us believe that we do not go along with something that we do not believe is right just because everyone else is. (We call that peer pressure.) Some of us believe that to fight for something with passion because you believe it is the right thing is admirable....not condemnable. We want for our kids to see our request for a diplomatic solution, but our willingness to stand up for what is right even though it may make some uncomfortable. Some of us want for our children to learn to seek the truth even though some may not like it. As I have said before, some of us are unapologetic advocates for our kids and we believe that to stand for our convictions and to stand for truth is one of the best lessons we can teach our children.

As parents this has made some of us more connected and interested in what our kids are learning. I know personally, I will be a more active participant in their educations from this point forward. I will never assume that someone else has their best interest at heart. I will make sure from now on. As administrators we hope that they can step up and recognize, through some humility, that maybe this was not the best road to take us down. We can work together to find the best solution for all children based on sound research and the knowledge gained from surrounding school districts.

I feel that we are lucky to be a part of the Camdenton School District. No school district is without its troubles. That is a given. However, I believe that our Superintendent and School Board want what is best for our children. I believe that they are all tirelessly researching and looking for what they believe to be the best answer for your kids and mine. With that being said....I am postponing the next forum/chili supper until we hear from our school board. There will not be a petition drive until we see what direction they plan to go. Let's wait and see...let's wait and see for one more week. Attend the school board meeting on Monday with me, and let's hear what they have to say.

After speaking with many of you over the last few days, I think we all share the same hope that they (our administration) have heard us and are looking for the balance that we desire for our students and our teachers. We will see. Again, I thank you for all of the support. For the kind emails...for the phone calls...for the hugs and handshakes in the grocery store....I am proud to be in this with all of you. I know that, in the end, this can turn out to be such a positive for EVERYONE involved. For now, let's hang in there and see what our administration offers before we take our next step. I will keep you posted on that progress...daily.