Back-to-School Night

Back-to-School Night is scheduled for Sept 19th this year. If you missed it, here is my presentation. Also be sure to check the Room 15 Handbook, elsewhere on The Platy.

People like to talk about how there’s a Starbucks on every corner. Whether true or not, the Starbucks brand is impressive. In fact, there are about 16,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. That’s really incredible.

Yet it’s totally junior varsity compared to America’s Public School System. While we’re all impressed by Starbucks, our School System has around 100,000 locations. One hundred thousand! That means we’re running six schools for every Starbucks. Think about how much more challenging it is to run a school than a coffee franchise—let alone six schools—or how much more challenging it is to be a teacher than a barista.  

McDonald’s raves about how many burgers it’s served: “Billion and Billions” it says on its signs.  Well, on average, McD’s serves 6 1/2 million burgers per day. That’s an impressive number—unless you compare it to America’s Public School System. We teach 74 million students per day. Seventy-four million! That’s 11 kids for every burger sold. No matter how you pickle it, there’s no comparing frying up a burger to teaching eleven kids how to read, write, and calculate the surface area of a hamburger wafer. 

Yes, I know all these school districts and schools are “independent” entities, but so too is a Starbucks franchise. The fact is, given the enormous task of teaching, feeding, nurturing, and babysitting America’s kids, there is no corporation in the world that can compare with the American Public School System. None. Not even Amazon.

And yet, when surveyed, only 19% of Americans says our school system is doing a good job.  Wait. Stop the press. When those same people are asked about the school system in their own state, suddenly 44% say the schools in their own state are doing well. But hang on yet again. When those people are then asked about their local schools, 79% give them favorable grades. How can this be?

Setting aside media bias and political propaganda (there’s more of that than McD’s world supply of special sauce), it suggests that the closer one is to the action, the more they appreciate what’s going on. We have a distant view of the school system as a whole, yet because own kids and grandkids go to the local school, we tend to be more aware and appreciative of all the hard work being done.  At the local level, too, people tend to see the students and their families as accountable, which leads us to the gist of this post. You see, there’s also research that shows the more involved one is as a parent, the better one’s child will do in school.

When parents attend assemblies, chaperone trips, encourage their kids to participate, and insist that vacations be taken during actual vacation periods, kids do better. When parents read with their kids, check their homework, communicate regularly with the teachers, hold their children accountable, and validate report cards, kids do better.

Having done this gig for more than 30 years, I can attest to the validity of such research.  Hands-on parenting benefits kids. Here’s how:

Drop in. Come hang out with us–no strings attached! Simply come to experience what it’s like in the classroom. What’s your kid’s day really like? You don’t need a volunteer app to be a drop in visitor. Check the Daily Schedule on our website, pick a day and time, and let us know as little as ten minutes before hand so that we can tell the office staff, and then just show up.

Chaperone field trips. Few schools have the number of authentic field experiences as we do. Join us on a bike trip, cave exploration, hiking outing, or snow shoeing adventure. Be especially encouraged to join us on the 5th grade Outdoor Ed trip to the coast. Know, however, that we prefer to take people who’ve been with us on at least one previous trip. Also note that you must have a approved volunteer app on file (which must be resubmitted every year)—and it takes two weeks to process, so don’t wait until the last minute to turn it in. Apply by clicking here.

The most beneficial involvement doesn’t happen at school. Buddy read, review homework, check binders, pay attention to Parent Square, the class webpage, and printed information.  And finally, make sure your kiddo is attending consistently. The State’s standard for attendance is 92%. That means a student can miss only five days per trimester and still be up to snuff; the best students miss less than that. We want kids to stay home when they’re truly sick, but make sure absences are for legitimate reasons.

Though our school isn’t without its weaknesses, I’m really proud of what we do there. I think my students are blessed to be growing up in this community and school district. Join us in making this school year the best one yet!