I attended a leadership conference that was designed to educate the participants on methods of serving our communities in the most effective ways. One of our presenters was Dr. Kennon Mitchell, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services for the San Bernardino City Unified School District. He has co-authored a book entitled "The Plan: A Guide for Women Raising African American Boys from Conception to College."
Dr. Mitchell confirmed with research data that the most influential person in a child's educational life is his or her parents. So parents we have to stop expecting teachers to educate our children. We are their first teachers. Who taught your child how to hold a bottle, roll a ball, kiss, hold a spoon, cuss, hit, act out, lie, their alphabet, colors, numbers and walk? It was our example and encouragement. Dr. Mitchell's research has shown when parents are involved their students get higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates. Students have increased motivation, better self-esteem, decreased use of drugs and alcohol and fewer instances of violent behavior.
Does this mean every parent has to teach the course curriculum? No, obviously not. Not every parent is equipped to teach the curriculum but every parent should set standards of behavior, grade expectations, and examples of integrity. My grandparents, who raised me, did not have degrees but they set standards.
- I was going to school;
- I was going to cooperate with the teacher and do the work whether I liked the teacher or not.
- If I had a problem with the teacher, I was to do the work and let my grandparents handle the problem.
They did not go to the school yelling and cursing at the principal, staff or teachers. They approached them with the same respect that they expected to receive. They listened to the teacher and then asked the questions that would bring the whole thing out into the open. When the conversation was over the teacher felt good and knew that he or she had parental support and my grands knew they had communicated their expectations. Sometimes, I thought they sided with the teacher and against me. However, now that I am a parent, I know they were protecting me from future attacks from the teacher. I also realized that their example taught me how to handle conflict. My reputation and their good name stayed in tact. My grades were high because I was more afraid of disappointing my grandparents than I was of my teachers. Parents exercise your power!
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