By Oudomsack Panchit September 21, 2012 10:33 am
I am Oudomsack Panchit, a parent of three children, 15, 13, and 7 years old. All of my children attend or have attended a school that was labeled as “failing.”
It’s a terrible label, because what I see when I’m at Oak Hill Elementary School are dedicated teachers trying to help disadvantaged students learn. I don’t think we’re “failing.” I think we’re doing the best we can with the little we’ve got.
Oak Hill, located in High Point, North Carolina has faced its fair share of challenges. The economic downturn hit us hard with the budget cuts and we are a very diverse community. But with some federal grant money, community partners and a plan to transform the school, students are achieving at a higher levels, teachers are working more closely together and more parents are showing up to help.
The problem was never a teacher who didn’t care or students who didn’t want to learn. The problem is the poverty in the community. Maybe our children don’t perform as well on standardized tests as students in wealthier districts, but that because our students don’t always have a full stomach, the glasses they need to see, or private tutors to help them when they are struggling.
So it hurts to hear your child’s school has been labeled as “failing” when you know by most measures, it’s not.
But to change that perception, we – parents, families, educators, and administrators – work together. We are all partners with the same goal: helping our students succeed.
The staff at Oak Hill is reaching out to families in new ways, like hosting a Festival of Cultures, Parents Focus Group, All Pro Dad, Imoms, Families Literacy Night, and Canvas In the Neighborhood. We also provide an after school club program for our students. This is to engages us, parents, as active partners with the school. Together we’re helping our children as well as helping our community grow.
There’s a lot of chatter out there about the upcoming movie “Won’t Back Down.” In the movie, the parent of a student at a “failing” school partners with a teacher to gain control and transform the school, a story based on the Hollywood depiction of parent trigger laws.
What’s funny is that you shouldn’t need a parent trigger law to transform a school. Reform doesn’t need to involve drawn out battles at school board meetings and capital buildings. All you need for true education reform is collaboration amongst everyone who has a stake in the community a school serves.
I don’t see apathetic teachers at my child’s school. I see professionals and experts who will stay after school for as long as it takes to help their student’s succeed. I don’t have issues with my child’s teachers ignoring me. That’s because we all see the need to be partners rather than adversaries.
Because of that, Oak Hill students’ test scores have risen significantly.
Sure, it takes work and time to develop trust between schools and families, and maybe we’re just lucky to have a great group of adults at Oak Hill and outstanding community support. But there are many schools out there with a similar story.
When will a movie come out highlighting to positive affects public schools have on students?