Families, Not Just Children

If you spend much time around schools or educators, you will be sure to hear someone say, "We need to do what’s best for the children." Asking what’s best for the children is an essential touchstone. But, I would like to challenge everyone involved in education to broaden that perspective just a bit. We should also ask, "What’s best for the family?"

We will do our best at educating children when we keep the child in the context of family. Schools can’t succeed without families.  What’s more, educating our children is the most intimate (deeply personal) thing families do.  We must not strip away that intimacy.

When we narrow our focus to children alone, we can inadvertently leave out parents and guardians. Nothing infuriates parents more than when decisions are made about their child’s education without their consultation.

Considering children in the context of family is a challenge for educators because some parents do not fulfill their most basic responsibilities – for instance, making sure their children are rested and fed when they arrive at school. That’s infuriating and it’s unfair to our teachers. Too often we expect teachers to pick up parental duties.

At other times, parents are unwilling to consider the needs of any child except their own.  All they do is make demands.  Principals and teachers are required to consider the needs of many children, not just one.

I understand the challenges involved with thinking of children in the context of family life. But, just because it’s challenging to do, I won’t give up the conviction.

And, to be fair, I know many educators in the St. Vrain Valley who share and act on this conviction every day. One goal I have if I am elected to the board is to support policies that enable our educators to work with families in meaningful ways.

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