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Education Reform – Winning a Fight That’s All About Love

Kathryn Young Thompson

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write for the Mom Congress blog when I was first asked.  It’s not that I don’t love education, because I do.  It’s not that I don’t want to help improve it, because that’s a high priority for me.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this blog because I hate contention and the fight to reform education in this country is just that – a fight.

There are so many sides shouting their opinions, parents against teachers, teachers and parents against administrators, administrators and teachers against government, bloggers and message board commenters against everyone, often shooting down ideas right and left but offering no solutions of their own.  I’ve read enough to know that if you get involved in this fight, you will, at some point, have your ignorance and biases pointed out to you in no uncertain terms.  If you enter this battlefield, you won’t leave it without a few scars, wounded pride, fractured idealism, loss of trust.

In the end, what made me decide to take this on was a realization that the underlying motive of all this turmoil, the very essence of this fight, is love.  Underneath all the conflicting opinions, the anger and the rhetoric, lies a common thread of love. 

Some people want to change things out of love for their own children, while others think more broadly in terms of improving the lives of all children.  Many of us share a love of learning, a deep-seated belief that knowledge is a power strong enough to change the world.  For some reformers, love of country is what sets them on this journey, a desire to make America strong by nurturing intellect and innovation in the hearts of our youth, ensuring that each generation is equipped to be more successful than the one before.

Of course, there are the few who really just like to stir the pot, whose motives are purely love of self or love of money, but I believe these are the rare exceptions.  A coward wins an argument by ascribing spurious motivations to a person who disagrees with her.  None of us truly knows what drives another person and I think it’s more productive to assume that those around us have the best intentions and move forward boldly, looking for common ground and respectfully discussing differences. 

It’s all too easy for the welfare of children to be forgotten in a war of clashing egos and ideological obstinacy.  I’m writing for the Mom Congress blog in hopes of reminding everyone, including myself, that in order to reform education with any degree of success, we need to stop looking for someone to blame and go back to the heart of why we’re all involved in this effort.  Let’s show the kids we’re trying to help, an example of how passionate intelligent adults can come together to solve a problem.

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler, and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, and occasionally the gym.

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