Last night I read the The New York Times’ article Silicon Valley Came to Kansas Schools. That Started a Rebellion. For some reason as I read this article a song kept coming to mind. The song was The Devil Came From Kansas by Procol Harem from their album A Salty Dog.
There are many issues of concern about Summit Learning and about it being put in place in some schools in Kansas as well as other areas. I do want to focus on one thing that seems to be popping up more and more these days. I am not quite sure how best to refer to this focus but it has to do with parent voice.
The parent voice has too often not been raised in the past as parents put trust in the school system. When the parent voice has been raised, it has often been marginalized or completely throttled with parents being told no one else has raised the issue or the school knows what’s best for their students. With many of the education reform measures over the last decade or so, the parent voice has been raised and attempts to marginalize or throttle it have not always been successful. Yet, the education system (and the powers/influencers behind it) do not pay attention to the parent voice and arrogantly don’t seem to care. The powers/influencers will even go so far as to tell the public (and parents) what parents want without ever hearing the parents.
From the article:
In a school district survey of McPherson middle school parents released this month, 77 percent of respondents said they preferred their child not be in a classroom that uses Summit. More than 80 percent said their children had expressed concerns about the platform.
“Change rarely comes without some bumps in the road,” said Gordon Mohn, McPherson’s superintendent of schools. He added, “Students are becoming self-directed learners and are demonstrating greater ownership of their learning activities.”
77% of parents prefer “their child not be in a classroom that uses Summit.” As a parent voice, that is a loud and strong message… and very clear. It is loud enough that if the powers that be don’t pay attention to it, they are going to have problems on their hands. Like rebellion in this case. Yet the superintendent blows off the parent voice with his comments that may come back and bite (or byte, in this case) him in the employment contract.
“Students are becoming self-directed learners and are demonstrating greater ownership of their learning activities.” I wonder where this came from. Original thought based on evidence or spoon-fed ideology?
And Diane Tavenner, Summit’s chief executive, doesn’t seem to give credence to the parent voice.
Ms. Tavenner said the Kansas protests were largely about nostalgia.
This is a system that is supposed to work for parents and the community. When will that system start listening to the parent voice? What will have to happen to get the system to listen and act based on the parent voice? And parents, are you willing to be a part of the parent voice? Are you willing to take back control over your child’s education? Are you willing to be a part of the rebellion it will take to regain local control?
And I wonder if the Devil really came from Kansas… or came to Kansas.