by Georgia Charter Schools Association
By Rich Thompson
For students in Georgia, this week marks that joyous and sometimes tearful moment known as the first day of school. Being the GenerationX-er that I am, it seems like eons ago when the hot days of August was precisely the time our summer vacation was finally kickin’ into full swing! Now as the parent of two Millennial Generation daughters, the month of August and “kickin’ into full swing,” beg an entirely different understanding.
It’s a misguided perception that back-to-school applies only to our children, or that learning only takes place in a school building Monday thru Friday between the times our kids are dropped off in the morning and then picked back up in the afternoon. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In fact, when our two daughters go “back-to-school,” so do we!
My wife and I make it a point to visit our daughters’ schools not just on Back-to-School-Night, but throughout the year. After sixteen plus years of fatherhood I have learned one unforgettable lesson that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow summed up well when he wrote, “A single conversation with a wise man (or woman) is better than ten years mere study of books.”
Simply put, no matter how great the academic experience our children may receive from roughly 8:00 am to 3:00 pm at school, it’s the one-on-one conversations that we parents share with them every day that have the most significant impact.
Everyone in Georgia made a really big deal over the end-of-year standardized tests called the Criterion Referenced Curriculum Test, or CRCT. (Side note: The CRCT was replaced by the Georgia Milestones exam in 2014.) After all, the results of the test were the yardstick by which the effectiveness of every school in Georgia was measured.
But I contend that there is a more conclusive and exacting test for measuring the effectiveness of our child’s academic experiences. At Georgia PTO, we like to call it the FKTT — the F-amily K-itchen T-able T-est! That’s right, in a world consumed by technology, iPhones, iPods, iPads and iEverything, the best scholastic assessment tool known to humankind is a discerning Mom and Dad. Overwhelmingly, the number one predictor of a student’s academic success is an engaged and empowered parent.
So to answer the question, “For Whom the (School) Bell Tolls?” I say it tolls for all of us who answer to the names Mom and Dad. As part of your daily routine for this school year, I want to challenge every Mom and Dad in Georgia to join me in taking the “I Am That Parent!” pledge. Be that parent who rises early to get your child ready for school, ensures that your child arrives to school on time, equipped and ready to learn, and helps your child with their homework in the evening.
And finally, after the family dinner bell has rung, be that parent who enjoys a loving, one-on-one conversation with the wisest person your child will ever know — you!
Rich Thompson is the Executive Director of Georgia PTO, a nonprofit membership organization that supports Georgia’s public charter school parents and teachers. Georgia PTO helps schools engage and empower parents to ensure that every child finds success in college, career and in life.
The views and opinions expressed on CharterConfidential are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.