(reimaginED) – When the Biden Administration announced that it was creating an “unprecedented” advisory council to elevate the role of parents and families in schools, I became full of mixed emotions.
Why? Because our parent group and similar groups across the nation have been engaged in that work for years – some for decades – with minimal parent right protections from the U.S. Department of Education.
God knows I try so hard to stay optimistic, but when I dug into the details, all I saw was an effort that looks a lot like window dressing covering up many issues parents and families are actually concerned about right now during this unprecedented time in the lives of our children.
Summer is here. Many schools are closing for summer break while many parents from rural, suburban, and urban America are scrambling to find activities and resources that help keep their kids occupied safely all while seeking additional academic and youth mental health supports critically needed due to massive learning loss and isolation that occurred because of school closures over the last two years related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Research during and after the pandemic has identified spikes in juvenile delinquency and violent crime and massive learning loss. No longer are we talking about achievement gaps; we are talking achievement gulfs. Marginalized communities are still dealing with our country’s ongoing literacy crisis.
The CDC has emphasized the need to support the youth mental health crises from long-term isolation. Safety remains a number one concern for parents, families and many communities. In addition, many families, from all backgrounds, are worried about what is being taught in their kids’ classrooms when it comes to sexuality and sex.
Parents and families from all parts of our country are dealing with many of these major educational and life challenges all while our country is still reeling from the recent aftermath of mass shootings involving children and educators.
As a result, and in my opinion, parents and guardians and the community do not have time for a partisan government-run solution that clearly will value some parent and family voices while alienating others. I base some of my conclusions on the precedent set by this administration in recent months. All of which brings me to wonder why the Biden administration has characterized its new parent council as “unprecedented.”
Solutions to bring together parents, families and the school community is not new. Sustainable parent and family relationship building with educators is always a best practice. Making sure all our voices are represented at this government table, for the betterment of all children, is something I thought we might be able to help with.
This commentary from Gwen Samuel, president and founder of the Connecticut Parents Union and a reimaginED guest blogger, written in the form of a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, appeared recently on Samuel’s blog.
This article is shared with permission from reimaginED.