In a previous column I discussed the effect COVID19 will have on our students in the short term. I argued we need to re-open schools immediately as it will have a major negative affect on the majority of students if we do not do so. However we also need a long term plan of what we are going to change in the curriculum to bring it back to one that teaches American Ideals and Critical Thinking.
In order to accomplish this we must have a multi- pronged plan. This plan must start at the local level. We must elect Board of Education members who support the values I have stated above. Your first response is most likely what good that accomplish as the Curriculum is set by the State. That is mostly true. However Local Boards do have powers that can help effect change. For example, in North Carolina the State dictates the amount of credits and many of the courses you need to get your high School Diploma. Depending on the track a student takes to achieve a High School Diploma in NC, you need either 20 or 21 credits. There is nothing in state law that does not allow a local Board to require an additional course or two to receive that diploma. A Local board can require a course in American Civics or History that teaches the real facts as to how this nation was founded, how it is run and how an imperfect nation strives over the years to correct the wrongs of civilization and improve the lives of its citizens. Another mandated local course could be life skills. Simple things not taught such as developing an individual budget or balancing a checkbook or responsible descent.
Another factor in this reboot is a need for us all to be involved in our student’s education. We need to attend Board of Education Meetings and express our concerns. If there were classes where presentations were overly slanted then we need to raise those concerns. There is no issue when both sides to a position are presented and through critical thinking the class members decide who or what they support. However if only one side is presented that must be surfaced and corrected. As parents we have the right to see the curriculum being taught. It is up to us review our children’s curriculum and bring inaccuracies to the attention of the Administration and the Board.
Auditing classes is another method to see what is happening in classrooms. We must pressure the Board to make auditing a policy for Parents or Guardians. Procedures would obviously be developed to allow the class audits.
An additional piece to the program is getting more parental involvement. The more parents are involved the more they know what is being taught and can address any issues of slanted presentations. An excellent way to accomplish this would be to initiate the program WATCH D.O.G.S. D.O.G.S. stands for Dads of Great Students. This program trains and screens Dads, grandfathers, and uncles of students to come and spend 1 day at school. They are screened to ensure safety of students and staff at the school. These volunteers walk the halls with walkies if available, and talk to kids in the cafeteria or study hall. They can even audit a class or two. They are briefed and debriefed by school administration and if they see trouble they must report it and not get involved. The cost of the program is under $500.00. That includes the materiel from the national site and the pizza party to introduce the program to the Dads and their students at an after school event. You might add a little to the cost by buying tee shirts identifying them as WATCHD.O.G.S. Though there is only a one day commitment from the parents, it is my experience after a full day at the school everyone volunteers to return and do it as much as possible.
This part of the 3 part series addresses what should be done in the K to 12 environments. The next part will address college issues and the final part discipline across the Board, Stay tuned……