I am the proud mother of a 5-year-old boy who is in kindergarten at a Denver public school that has a college-going culture with a sense of community.
I’m a first-generation college graduate with a degree in political science and sociology from the University of Denver. I graduated in 2004 from Denver’s North High School, which at the time was one of the lowest-performing schools in the city. Although I was in the top 10% of my class and took honors courses, I almost dropped out my first year of college because I was not prepared.
I want better for my son.
When we were choosing a school for him, we took our time and did intensive research. We believe our son—and all students— have the potential to succeed, regardless of where they come from.
The recent poll commissioned by Education Post found that 88% of school parents support “higher standards and a more challenging curriculum” to change and improve our education system. I agree. In order for ALL of our students to be prepared for college, in my opinion, schools need to ensure the following:
- A college-going culture of high expectations for all students, regardless of where they come from. There should be a strong focus on student learning, clear expectations for academic achievement, constant monitoring and intensive support. Students need to be assessed regularly and results should drive instructional planning and interventions.
- Schools should implement a rigorous, school-wide policy for homework, rather than leaving decisions about homework up to individual teachers. Students should know clearly what is expected of them, and they should be held responsible for their behavior.
- Strong, highly effective principals and teachers, who have high expectations of all students and are accountable for their growth. Principals and teachers should encourage and teach critical-thinking skills and ensure students are able to communicate ideas, recognize and weigh perspectives, and become active members of their communities.
- Schools should intentionally teach effective study skills, especially in the middle school grades. Studies have shown that the skills that students do not master when they are in middle school are often the same skills they do not develop in high school—and the ones they need the most when they get to college.
And if schools want parents to stay active partners in helping their children achieve at these higher levels, then schools need to create an inviting environment for families, where everyone feels welcome regardless of their cultural and language differences. Parents need regular updates about their students’ progress, and translation support when they need to meet with teachers.
I believe that all students, regardless of race, income or immigration status, deserve equal access to high-quality public schools that prepare them for college. I’m also an involved parent, and my dream is to see my child grow into a healthy young man, be happy and succeed in life.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” —Nelson Mandela