06 Nov Parental Rights in Action: 10 Steps to a Better Education for Your Child
Parental Rights in Action: 10 Steps to a Better Education for
Dear Friend of the Family,
Parental rights are one pillar that supports UFI’s mission to protect and preserve the family. Included in that right, is the responsibility and privilege of directing the upbringing and education of children. Long ago I heard Walt Disney say that “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” The power to develop that resource must be left in the hands of those who have the most stake in that resource-the parents.
To secure the kind of education we desire for our children, we must be aware of our respective government laws that affect education. Parental rights in education are imperative. Parents should be able to spend their resources for education, including tax money, on the schools of their choice. We must be involved in structuring political policy that respects the natural authority and primary responsibility of parents over the education of their children.
United Families Arizona, a state chapter of UFI, recently sponsored a public event at the Arizona House of Representatives called ” School, Rules and Tools.” One of the speakers that day was Onnie Shekerjian, a long time parent advocate and a member of the city council in Tempe, Arizona, who spoke about advocating for your children’s education. Below you will find ten succinct and helpful tips on advocating for your child in the education system. The tips are based on universal advocacy techniques that are designed to help you and your child be successful.
Making a Difference
Mrs. Shekerjian (photographed below with her family) is the proud mother of three children. Over the last 14 years, she has served on over three dozen public education committees, boards and commissions at the state, district and school levels. In 1995, she co-founded Arizona Parents Association for Children’s Education (APACE), a parent advocacy organization. From her experience in the schools and in the community, Mrs. Shekerjian knows the power of parents and how they can and do make a difference in their children’s education.
You can make a difference too! Do what you can to ensure good public policy is in place in your schools, state and nation. If parents are being empowered, you can bet the policy needs your support. As we secure public policy, and learn to advocate in behalf of our children’s education, we will be on our way to developing our greatest natural resource-the minds of our children.
Carol Soelberg, President
United Families International
Advocating for Your Children’s Education: 10 Steps
By Onnie Shekerjian, Member, Tempe, Arizona City Council
Everywhere we turn today, we are encouraged to be more responsible for our children’s education. Most educators would agree, minimally, this means sending our children to school ready to learn with a good night’s rest and a belly full of breakfast. Being responsible for our children’s education also means advocating for them when a problem occurs at school.
Whether it’s a bully on the playground or a poor classroom performance, parents can be more effective when they have a strategy — rather than letting their emotions get the best of them. Here are 10 simple steps outlining what parents can do when a problem arises at school.
1) Define and examine your concerns.
Do your homework. It is critical to collect all the facts possible and articulate the problem clearly to be believable. Does this problem involve other children? If so, consider involving other parents in this process. There is credibility in numbers.
2) Develop possible solutions.
This sets a positive tone indicating you want to work in partnership with the school to resolve the problem. You are not merely complaining, but offering potential solutions.
3) Prepare a written document.
To an extent, the education system has forced school personnel into the role of bureaucrats and their language is paper. Having a written document makes the school take your concerns seriously. The document should contain a list of your issues, potential solutions and questions. The tone should reflect your desire to work positively with the school.
4) Meet with the teacher.
Make an appointment with the teacher. Consider having your spouse or a friend accompany you to the meeting for support. Inform the teacher who to expect at the meeting.
5) Approach the meeting with a positive attitude.
Leave your emotions outside the meeting room. Negative behavior will only discredit your message. Your behavior must stay above reproach. Using your document as the basis for the meeting’s agenda, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
6) Define the next step.
At the end of the meeting, ask:
• What is the next step?
• Who will be responsible for that step?
• When (a date) will the next step occur?
This step is crucial. It keeps the meeting from being merely a gripe session and increases the likelihood of a positive outcome. Leave a copy of your written document with the teacher.
7) Document events.
Keep a record of all meetings and phone calls, including dates and people involved along with your initial document and any letters. Politely informing the school you are documenting the events lets the school know you are serious about your issue.
8) Follow the chain of command.
If you and the teacher are unable to resolve the problem, utilize the next link in the chain of command. Usually the chain of command looks like this: teacher, principal, superintendent, school board member. Utilize steps 1 – 7 with each person on the chain.
9) Consider all your educational options.
If your children’s school is unwilling to work with you to resolve the problem, look at the educational choices parents have in your state. Parents now have more free choices than ever before, including: public charter schools, limited private school vouchers or other district schools. Contact your state’s education department to learn more about your options.
10) Never forget that you are responsible for the education of your children.
You are the only constant from kindergarten through college in your children’s education. There is no guarantee any educational system will assure your children’s educational needs are met. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility. Don’t abdicate that responsibility to your children’s schools; delegate and oversee it. Your children’s futures depend on it.