On November 9th, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan met with parents at a town hall meeting co-sponsored by Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress. Emily Rempe, the 2010 Mom Congress delegate for Ohio, moderated the discussion and Brenda Martin (Kentucky 2011) and Myrdin Thompson (Kentucky 2010) were in attendance. Here are a few of their thoughts:
I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in the recent Parenting Magazine Mom Congress Town Hall with the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, that was held in Mason, Ohio. The auditorium was filled with students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members, eager to hear what Sect. Duncan had to say about the "state of education" but also willing to share their thoughts about what needs to happen next in the discussion.
What impresses me the most is the willingness of Sect. Duncan and the Department of Education staffers who were on site, to engage in some crucial conversations. There is often a lack of knowledge about what exactly the DOE does, and what it cannot do. There were many questions about what the Secretary was going to do about teacher accountability, about common core, about the drop-out crisis. While the Secretary certainly answered these questions, (you can read my summation of events at http://myrdinthompson.blogspot.com/2011/11/arne-duncan-mom-congress-and-me.html) he also politely pointed out that education is a partnership and we all have a role to play. That parents should be more demanding of leadership, for children only get one chance at a quality education.
As an advocate for a stronger role for families in education, I agree with the Secretary that "we must invest in education and stop thinking of it as an expense." So, it's time for parents to step up, to go to school board meetings, to their State Department of Education meetings, to contact their State and Federal leaders and let them know that they can't just say they want the best for the children in our communities, but that they need to start showing that by supporting early education initiatives, by supporting best practices, by supporting the best educators, and by acknowledging that "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself." (John Dewey)
Secretary Duncan’s presence in Cincinnati and specifically in my local school district of Mason, Ohio served as a tangible affirmation of the priority being placed on education in our country. Change, whether it be on a large scale such as educational reform or on a small (but no less important) scale like fostering more teamwork within a family, always starts in the same way, with communication.
I am continually impressed by the Department of Education’s assertiveness in seeking insight and input from educators and parents who are ‘in the trenches.’ By closing the space that can seem to loom between the Department of Education in D.C and the daily challenges faced by teachers and parents in their local communities through communication, we are moving forward as a nation in providing solutions to our educational woes. I was personally honored to be a part of the event and strongly encourage parents to voice their opinions through Mom Congress and teachers to connect with the Teacher Ambassador Program.