Thursday, April 11, 2013


I did something Monday night that I had never done before in my life.

I attended a school board meeting.

When our family moved back to Obion County eight years ago, we arrived right in the middle of elections for school board representatives. I remember one of my sons commenting that local school board elections didn't really concern us, since we homeschool. I disagreed and vigorously assured him that, yes, these elections did matter to us, because the education of all of our county's youth mattered to us. I launched into an explanation of how education impacted everything from the moral culture of our county to its economy.

That's what I said, but did I really believe it?

I have family and friends who are teachers, teaching assistants, school administrators. Shoot, I'm a teacher myself. We've had lots of discussions about the state of local education. But I am ashamed to admit that I have invested almost no time or energy in trying to understand how my local schools work or finding ways to encourage and influence education in my area.

I am (almost) 50 years old. I have given birth to seven children, raised seven students. And yet I had never, ever been to a school board meeting. That is a very sad confession.

What did I think about Monday night's meeting? Well, I left more confused than anything. And a little disheartened - this does indeed look like a big, gnarly machine, one that won't be easy to make sense of.

But, I now have lots of questions - that, my friends, is one of the first steps to learning! So, if I'm able, I hope to attend these monthly meetings until I better understand how my local school board works and just exactly what it is they do. I want to learn how, as a parent and a taxpayer, I can have a voice in and a positive impact on education in my area.

I've spent a lot of years frustrated with what I see going on in public education, and I've jawed more than I should about our schools. No, I don't think my involvement will make a big impact, and I'm not even sure this leviathan can be turned around. But, I can't help wondering what would happen if parents just showed up, listened, and asked questions - not just when there's a "hot button" issue, but every month.

I wonder.

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