This week I reached out to a large group of parents with children in the Culver City Unified School District system to ask them what their three top concerns were in 2011 and beyond. The results were somewhat surprising and very diverse.
Overcrowding in the classrooms came up a lot, as did safety around the schools especially at the beginning and end of the school day. Funding for the schools, or lack thereof, was also major theme. What I was impressed by the most was the out-of-the box thinking that was put forth by a few parents.
Most of these parents have had enough of the purse strings being pulled by Sacramento. They wanted to find ways local parents can get more control over funding and its distribution. One suggestion was to create endowments and pay the salaries out of the annual interest earned.
Another theme was extending the school day or extending the number of days our kids are in school. A lot of parents feel the school year is way too short.
An interesting suggestion was to combine subjects, such as history and film and for students produce a video or documentary on a historical topic, such as World War II. This idea could be carried across many subjects.
One thing is for sure, parents really care about this. I even had one respondent who wrote me and said she had tried to write a response three times, but couldn't overcome the emotions the subject brought forth, and so she didn't send me any thoughts at all! Now that is passion.
The bottom line is there is a tremendous amount of frustration out there, along with a lot of new and creative ideas. It seems to me one massive stumbling block to any kind of serious and meaningful change is the sheer size of the organizations that are the key players, namely the Department of Education and the Teachers Union. It's like the old adage of the super tanker verses the speedboat. The speedboat can turn on a dime; the supertanker takes half a day just to turn around.
We are dealing with two massive supertankers. The only way for any systemic change to take place, is for the parents to band together all across the state, become their own supertanker and start to take on the inertia that is stifling a path to a brave new world where the parents are in control and the children come first. Anyone want to join me down at the shipyard?