Children Need Advocates

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Dear Editor:

As a graduate of Arcadia High School, the mother of an Arcadia High School graduate, a long time mentor of youth and an engaged community member, I must share my concern for the seemingly lack of or minimal advocacy from the community for our children’s education and also the need for greater accountability from our school divisions.
Many people complete school (primary and secondary education) and unless they have children or close family members with children or have someone who is employed by the school system, they may never give another thought to the governance and operation of the school system.

Often times, children are left to navigate the sometimes “perilous” waters of school for themselves. These “perilous” waters may include things like: the code of conduct, school resource officers, progressive discipline, IEPs (individualized education plans), and the list goes on and on. Parents, grandparents, guardians and extended family members often want to help the children, but may be given information that is not easily comprehended by an adult, let alone a child.

There is a definite need for parents, family members, and guardians to be a part of the conversations for their children, but I also see a need for the people of the community, “the village” to help the children to achieve success as they forge through the bureaucracy of policies, practices and standards that they are held to daily. School divisions should be held accountable to ensure the students succeed not only in instruction, but also in their personal development as well rounded and informed citizens.

We all read about how important education is and how it shapes the future for the children and for communities. Let’s take an active interest in and engage more with the schools on behalf of the children. Let’s be that community that rallies for our children by showing up for their PTA meetings, programs and athletic events. Let’s attend the school board meetings or join one of their advisory groups. Let’s advocate ­— be their voice — and let them know we care.

Karen Downing, Virginia Organizing