More! It’s about time!

There’s more to add to the last blog! We take inspiration from Bill Cosby, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, and, most notably, our new president, Barack Obama.

These leaders tell us some truths– that it’s time for parents, as well as schools, to work to improve outcomes for children. This week’s Education Gadfly picked up on the President’s inaugural speech in calling for a new “Era of responsibility.”
Our President is certainly on to something many of us have felt and known for a long time–but left unsaid. “A parent’s willingness to nurture a child…decides our fate.” Indeed.

We need to build on this important platform. Besides ideas for parental summits or other ways to partner with families and parents, as discussed in the Gadfly, we also need to review and amend our laws, that, alas, so far, run in the opposite direction. These laws (the NCLB, IDEA, Section 504, etc.) ask of parents that they “advocate” for their children, receive information about the schools, the teachers, etc., “demand” more, if what they receive is not enough, and file complaints or hearing requests. That is not enough. That does not lead us on the path of where we need to be.

In fact, in many ways, that approach misdirects us in defining ” parenting.” These laws should, at last, be more explicit in defining parenting as an active verb. And if we can’t mandate that, so be it, but we can at least provide examples–let these laws tell us what parenting is and can be.

I believe people all over our country are hungry for this information and leadership, including parents we may deem currently not to be “good” parents.

For starters in the “how to” department, use then candidate Barack Obama’s words from last May,

“There is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child’s education from day one. There is no substitute for a parent who will make sure their children are in school on time and help them with their homework after dinner and attend those parent-teacher conferences…. And I have no doubt that we will still be talking about these problems in the next century if we do not have parents who are willing to turn of the TV once in a while and put away the video games and read to their child.”

So, what are the “how to’s” for starters?

  • Be sure the child is in school on time
  • Help the child with homework after dinner
  • Have dinner with the child!
  • Attend those parent-teacher conferences
  • Be willing to turn off the TV once in a while
  • Put away the video games
  • Read to the child
  • AND?

A wonderful beginning. Hopefully, our practice–and even our laws–will begin to reflect reality–at last. It is time!

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line,, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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