Rebecca Latham, the 2017 National Mother of the Year, is the CEO of American Mothers Inc. Latham is the proud mother of two children and the daughter of a public school teacher. She is a strong advocate for maternal mental wellness and is in constant pursuit of work-life balance. She is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Two weeks into the school year on “Curriculum Night,” I was instantly smitten with my son’s fourth grade teacher. A lover of culture and technology, she rhythmically detailed her plans for the semester. When she proclaimed, “I won’t be sending homework because I don’t believe it actually helps children learn,” the classroom of parents cheered! Was it true? Was our role as nightly homework chasers a thing of the past?Reality set in, however, as she proceeded to describe the various things she simply wouldn’t have time to teach. Distressed, but nonetheless resolute, she said, “If they aren’t being tested on it, I won’t have time to teach it.” A Google search of “how to teach cursive handwriting” was clearly in my future.Additionally, she made it clear that instruction would move at a swift, pre-defined pace. Parents would need to monitor their child’s math or reading proficiency and supplement teaching at home if their child falls behind.
Interesting. The parent-teacher relationship must be evolving — from one where parents serve primarily as compliance partners with their child’s teacher, to one where parents are expected to be supplemental teachers of core subjects and untested skills/topics. Forgive my instant anxiety. Candidly, many moms (myself included) aren’t sure we’re prepared. Do I have the expertise to fill subject-matter gaps, so that my child’s education is well-rounded? And, as a working mom, troop leader, PTA member, team mom and volunteer, does the time exist to play the role I need to play?I understand how we arrived here, I don’t fault teachers at all (they work in a highly politicized, high-stakes system), and I certainly believe in the importance of engaged parents. But, I wonder whether parents have a strong enough seat at the negotiating table. To borrow an important cliché, we agree no child should be left behind because, well, they’re our children. No one loves them like we do. But as we pursue this goal together, we must ensure parents aren’t left behind either.