This week, RiShawn Biddle’s Dropout Nation features a plea from Gwen Samuel, the president of the Connecticut Parents Union, for families to demand greater accountability and choices for their children’s education. Just as Ben Austin’s California parents union has organized families to essentially take over a failing school, Samuel is shepherding a movement in Connecticut calling for an enhanced level of parental choice. “Quality-blind education will continue unless parents demand something different,” she wrote (Samuel’s union also is helping Tonya McDowell, the homeless Connecticut mother charged with larceny and ordered to pay $16,000 in restitution after authorities learned she enrolled her child in Norwalk schools when she should have sent him to Bridgeport):
If lawmakers and school leaders are not going to demand schools and their staffs to be fiscally and academically accountable for our children, then they should give us choice and attach each child with their per pupil amount. They can’t have it both ways. Either demand accountability of education leadership or give parents choice. If not, parents will take it. These are our babies and their lives are our responsibility.
Quality-blind education will continue until parents demand something different. We must demand access to excellent schools. That means, as parents, we can no longer have excuses for why we don’t visit our child’s school, or support them at home and in the community. If you can not support your child’s homework needs, let’s work together and find someone that can.
Parents want to be team players. We want to partner with educators, teachers, administrators, community and lawmakers to ensure better outcomes for all students. But the days of blind trust in what you do are over. We are learning to read and understand data, and learn and what high-quality schools should look like. Low performance will no longer be an acceptable option for our children. These are our children and we are responsible for their well-being!