Advocating in a small school district presents a challenge on many fronts. Sometimes, its hard to rally other parents so that your cause has enough strength and/or support that will actually make a change.
You may feel like your voice is drowned out by the chatter of nothingness.
You may feel powerless or that your efforts are fruitless.
You may question why bother doing this at all.
You may feel alone but, I assure you, that you are not.
Some parents are quick to complain but slow to take action.
Others are simply too scared to step up lest they be singled out and ostracized by their peers.
Many parents support you secretly but are afraid to show it in school because they fear backlash from unscrupulous officials or that their friends wont approve.
Many parents worry that they wil be labelled or known as “that parent” which is apparently a derogatory term.
Lets face it, no one wants to be “that parent” after all.
You know who “that parent” is….
That parent is not well liked because other parents resent the fact that the person is questionning authority and rocking the proverbial boat. Who does she think she is anyway, they might say.
That parent stands up for whats right in general and not just what’s right according to her friends.
That parent acts on principle even if it pisses off the district clique.
That parent stands up and faces an audience all by herself and speaks up proudly but with a quiver in her voice.
That parent speaks her mind even when her knees are shaking and her body shivers with fear.
That parent feels insatiably angry when her child gets upset because he doesnt get it or blames himself for being stupid when he’s not.
That parent comforts her child each time he cries or explodes out of frustration after a long and rigorous day at school.
That parent puts on her boots and keeps on truckin even though district officials and NYSED throw obstacles in her way designed to make her stop dead in her tracks.
That parent has reesearched every loophole and law and knows just how to refuse the test.
That parent has written 100 emails to every Senator and Assembly person in the State but has only gotten 1 reply, and its an automated vacation message.
That parent makes the heroic effort to keep her home life and family in balance as she dons a red cape and tries to save the world.
That parent runs a mile every single day in the race to end this educational disaster even though she hasnt even left the house yet.
That parent gets knocked down and trampled on by Regent Tisch every time she opens her big mouth but dusts herself off and stands back up.
That parent shows up at BOE meetings month after month after month when all others are nowhere to be found.
That parent hears crickets and sees blank stares looking back at her each time she speaks to the BOE trying to resolve valid concerns.
That parent advances sound arguments on issues that effect students emotionally, academically and socially and then is dismissed by King and accused of being a zealot or a “special interest group”.
That parent who other parents resent because she makes them look bad for doing nothing at all.
That parent writes emails to officials relentlessly, posts night and day to spread awareness and searches for clues and ways to ouwit NYSED the likes of which would make Sherlock Holmes look like a slacker.
That parent cries a waterfall of tears because NYSED has shown her that her kids just dont matter anymore.
That parent takes a deep breath and marches on day after day despite the fact that 500 educators and professionals have “grave concerns” over common core and NYSED isnt listening.
That parent stands tall every single morning with a lump in her throat and tears in her eyes when her child gets on that plane, you know the one, its still being built in the sky, knowing full well that at some point luck will run out and the damn thing is just going crash.
That parent is on a first name basis with hundreds of parents going through the same thing across the State but none of them seem to live in her district.
That parent sends virtual hugs to people she’s never even met after they’ve come home from a BOE meeting crushed by flawed policies once again.
That parent searches the internet and roves IT magazines like a CIA operative just to find a way to get her kids out of InBloom.
That parent calls Sears, like normal people do, not the head of GE when her refrigerator breaks down.
That parent knows exactly what the lesson plan is because she’s reviewed the script even before the teacher has had a chance to teach it in the classroom.
That parent thinks that children should not be composing and decomposing numbers in Kindergarten even though NYSED tells her that its age appropriate.
That parent whose child will never be college and career ready unless he can show on a test that he is proficient in quantum physics by the age of 8.
That parent doesnt sleep because she realizes what harm her child will suffer and this keeps her awake night after night after night.
That parent endures whispers and stares and listens to others snicker when she walks into a room.
That parent endures the hurt when others talk behind her back because they have nothing better to do and cant say anything nice to her face.
That parent loves her child so much she morphs into a human mamma bear intent on protecting her cub from harm.
That parent sacrifices time to reach out to others so that they can protect their children too.
That parent rescues her child from the confines of a small cardboard box only to find him boxed in again.
That parent usually speaks louder when other parents tell her to shut up and sit down.
That parent sets a good example for her child which someday she hopes he will follow.
That parent plans to claw, rake, slash and kick her way through all this beurocratic muck and mire just to get her children to a safe place so that they can live life, be happy and dream big.
That parent just doesnt care what people think of her because what really matters is her child and he thinks of her with pure adoration and love.
You know who that parent is, dont you?
That parent is me and if you’re reading this post right now “that parent” is you.
And being “that parent” makes our children proud and I stand proud for him too.