Education Is a Two-Way Street
As I've edited this publication over the last several years, the line between what is deemed the responsibility of parents to teach their children, and what educators are expected to teach students in nontraditional areas of learning seems to be getting fuzzier all the time. With each issue, I waver on this parent-educator conundrum. In DA's September 2008 issue, we ran "Districts Weigh Obesity Screening"—a feature article about the trend toward mandating the measuring of students' body mass index, with parental notification. These initiatives seem intrusive and make me feel uneasy. I also find it unfortunate that schools today are expected to play such a prominent role in teaching character education and sex education and in warning students about the dangers of alcohol and drug use, topics once considered the job of parents. We know that schools cannot and should not be the sole driver of a student's education—a point that many bloggers have found lacking in the Obama administration's Blueprint for Reform. Without support from parents, education reform really cannot move forward. And perhaps without all of these programs, there would be more money for core academic needs.
I talked recently with Chuck Saylors, president of the national Parent Teacher Association, who shared innovative ways for even the busiest of parents to help out in schools. In this month's Conversations, Saylors says, "If you can convince an adult to contribute three hours a year, we have tracked that they'll agree to give three and end up giving nine or 10. If you get them in the door, they'll come back." It's a role that has become essential for schools but is also good for the parents, who become more aware of what's going on during their child's day, and for the students, who can see that their parents care.
In my mind, however, teaching students about the right way and the safe way to navigate the Internet is more of a role for school districts to take on. Innovative educators work to create lifelong thinkers, and they are using the Internet so that each individual student will be able to research accurately while using both proper online ethics and safety measures. Therefore, each teacher needs to receive formal professional development in steering students properly through this new territory that most parents just don't know enough about. We cover how they can do this in "Cybersafety in the Classroom."
This issue also contains the second in our three-part series on the states that act as models of reform for the rest of the nation. In May we covered Texas, and this month we focus on Florida. I hope that you will learn as much as I have by following this series.
We also have a great follow-up to our Mobile Learning Guide. In our November-December issue, we offered you the how-tos, and this month in "Mobile Learning Pioneers" we focus on four trailblazing programs taking place in districts today.
Randy Collins, superintendent of Waterford (Conn.) Public Schools and the immediate past president of AASA, is retiring this year. He looks back on his superintendency in this issue's Professional Opinion, the first of what will be a regular series of contributions from him.
As the 2009-2010 school year winds down, I hope you can enjoy some rest and relaxation.
Judy Faust Hartnett, Editor in Chief