Growing up with a parent in the military had its ups and downs; by the time I was nine, I had already attended four different schools. The unifying factor of all four military-base schools was parental involvement. Having a parent involved in a student’s education is overtly necessary to maintain smooth transitions with the student’s continuous moving from one school to another and adjusting from one environment to another. When my family finally settled down in Louisiana, I made my transition to a majority white, suburban, public school with very little parental involvement in contrast to the military-base schools.
After graduating, I went to college. As my studies slowly drew me to becoming a teacher, I found myself taking classes focusing around socioeconomic issues, educational theory, and educational practice. The immense gap between theory and practice, especially among those of lower socioeconomic status, quickly became apparent. The facade of “good practices” of my middle school and high school became equally apparent. These “good practices” provided a mediocre education to a majority white population with little parental involvement. Upon reflecting in college, I realized my schools had created an atmosphere that accepted lack of parental involvement in their child’s education. They purported that good education can happen regardless of parental involvement.
Upon becoming a teacher at an inner city public school, my experience of this idea of education was further reinforced. I constantly struggle with reaching out to parents to invite them to be more involved in their child’s education. As a teacher of both traditionally tracked students and gifted students, I find many parents of traditionally tracked students are unaware of programs such as the Gifted and Talented program in Louisiana that their child could potentially have access to. Many parents are also unexposed to the problems associated with education today. Very few of them are aware of the current trend of high stakes tests, bigger class sizes, and less certified teachers.
My involvement with Parents Across America stems first and foremost from my desire to create a dialogue between educators and parents. As a current teacher, being able to create a place where parents can go to become informed and begin becoming active in the world of education is imperative in order to progress and improve public education.
Ian McGregor, Educator