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Let’s Figure This Out Together

Photo Courtesy of Kathryn Thompson

How can you know everything all the time?  I’m starting to realize you can’t.  For about a month last year I became super passionate about education reform.  My daughter Laylee wasn’t being challenged enough in her first grade class.  I heard Jeff Raikes, the CEO of the Gates Foundation, give an excellent speech on the need for improved schools.  I watched Waiting for Superman.  I was all fired up.

And then I started researching and blogging and researching some more.  I found out who Arne Duncan was   (Psst!  He’s the U.S. Secretary of Education!) and I read about Race to the TopCommon Core Standards, teacher tenure and college readiness.

Every article I read led me to another article, often with a conflicting viewpoint, often citing similar statistics to prove the opposite point.  I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person but I’ll admit I got confused and frustrated.  I lost steam.

The deeper I got into trying to figure out what could be done to fix the education system in this country, the more education reform seemed like a giant game of Pickup Sticks.  So many aspects of education depend intimately on crisscrossing enigmatic factors.  If you move the wrong one, the whole thing can come toppling down.

So many voices seem to be yelling, “PULL THE YELLOW STICK!” or “NO, THE BLUE ONE!  IF YOU PULL THE YELLOW ONE OUR CHILDREN ARE DOOMED!” or “DON’T PULL ANY OF THEM.  IT WILL ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE!”

Discouraged by this Pandora’s Box of mixed metaphors and polarized opinions, I closed the lid and went back to my life as a mom, trying to meet the needs of my own kids, less concerned about changing the world because I became sort of convinced that it wasn’t possible, that there were too many factors involved and I would never make sense of them all.  But these issues still nagged at the back of my mind.  There has to be an answer, right?  With so many passionate, intelligent people putting their hearts and souls into this endeavor, doesn’t it have to succeed?

Fast-forward to earlier this month when my editors at Parenting asked me if I’d be interested in taking an active role writing for the Mom Congress blog.  I knew I had to say yes.

I see this as an amazing opportunity to restart my journey, to read and study and make sense of all the voices clamoring for change.  I want you with me so we can figure this out.

Please be my companions on the road to revolutionize education in this country in ways big and small, to make a difference in the lives of children or even one child, to learn a little and grow a lot and hopefully make this world a better place. 

I invite some of you because you’ve been on this road for much longer than I have and you can teach me the way to go.  I invite many of you because you are like me, new to this world of being parents and advocates in a system that needs our help, and we can learn together.

Let’s stop pretending it’s possible to know everything and take the something we do know to help us move forward.  Isn’t there some saying about a group of ants being able to move a mountain, even though they don’t all read and understand every geological periodical?  Well there should be.  Go, fight, win, my friends!

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, DaringYoungMom.com and occasionally the gym.

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