I want my public schools to help children discover their unique gifts and talents so they may enter the world with confidence and purpose.
~Lyn Franklin Hoyt, Mom and Public School Advocate
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other power brokers, plan to remake public schools. The timing is right to ask the mothers of America, of which I am one, how they would like to reimagine public schools after the pandemic is over.
Moms and teachers hold the key to how schools should run. They’re closest to the student.
For Mother’s Day, I asked Moms what they wanted from their public schools. I collected their comments and added a few of my own. Feel free to add to the list.
- The Arts. All schools must provide arts education. Music, painting, dance, acting, students thrive with exposure to a rich arts program.
- Assessment. Drop the high-stakes standardized testing! Mothers know these tests were never about their children. Moms started the Opt-Out Movement! Have less assessment and more teacher-chosen tests to determine student progress.
- Cafeterias. Parents hope for better food for their students and a better dining environment.
- Career-Technical Education. Students benefit from classes in Career-Technical Education (CTE).
- Communication. School officials and teachers must stay in touch. Politeness and positivity in forms and business information go a long way with parents.
- Community. Schools are the hub of the community. Moms want the community to get behind their public schools.
- Curriculum. Students deserve a rich variety of classes. Elementary students need social studies and science. Civics must be addressed in high school. Many mothers want to see the return of classes like Home Economics and business education. Their students need to understand personal management and life skills.
- Diversity. Laura Bowman, who’s on the Board of Directors of Parents Across America, reminded us of the need to recruit more teachers of color. Classes should reflect cultural differences. We will never become a better nation if we don’t bring children together.
- Extracurricular. All schools need extracurricular activities that bind the community together.
- Individuality. Moms yearn for real personalized instruction. They want school administrators, teachers, and staff who know and understand their child. At meetings they want to hear their child’s name spoken. They want to learn from teachers about their child’s weaknesses and strengths. They’re tired of their children being data points. They want data walls torn down!
- Joy! Let’s make schools pleasant places, where children learn the joy of learning. Learning can be hard work, but humor, curiosity, and fun should be a part of schooling.
- Libraries. Libraries with rich reading content are a must. Technology can be included in a media center but must not push out traditional print material. Makerspaces must not replace school libraries.
- Play. Moms understand how important play is to young children.
- Physical Education. Students also need organized physical education.
- Safety. Moms want safe, secure schools. They want their children to feel safe in their schools.
- School Boards. Moms want school boards to listen to them. They reject outside organizations i.e. The Mind Trust, Stand for Children, The Gates Foundation, Koch Brothers, etc. School boards represent the community. If businesses want to be involved, they must listen to many and they must include the moms.
- School Buildings. Everyone wants school buildings that are welcoming, clean, and safe. This requires an investment in school infrastructure. Students have more pride in their schools and better when school buildings are built with them in mind.
- Socialization. Students need to better understand their peers and make friends. Friendships and school camaraderie are what make life sweet. If schools reflect society, as most of us believe, public schools can bring students together for a better world.
- Special Education. Moms want support for students with disabilities. They want to be heard.
- Teachers. Moms recognize teachers need support in order to reach their children. They might disagree with teachers at times, but they don’t want to replace them with a machine! They want smaller classes and well-prepared teachers with college degrees in the area they teach.
- Technology. Moms know technology is important. They’re currently at its mercy. But they want real teachers and schools. They worry about online privacy. They don’t want their child’s social-emotional status analyzed online. They don’t want high stakes testing to transition to nonstop, embedded data collection! Moms want access, but they don’t want it to take over their children’s lives.
- Reading. Every child needs individual assessment to their reading ability. Teachers then need to create a plan that reflects what they each student needs to learn to read, or to read better. Teachers must be prepared to teach reading. They need to listen and work with parents to address their child’s reading needs.
- Recess. Parents want children to have several supervised recess breaks during the school day. Children must be given the freedom to direct their own play.