It’s My Turn
It has been quite some time since I was a student, but I find myself wanting to get involved in school as a parent. With four children attending Rockaway public schools, I spend a lot of time thinking about their futures. I have the responsibility to ensure my children receive the best possible education because I know it is invaluable to their success.
Over the years I have watched the quality of my children’s education and academic development go downhill. They are behind at learning basic skills and often feel disconnected from their teachers.
I know that parents have to play a role in educating their children, and I’m doing my part. When my son was struggling in school earlier this year and not receiving the proper attention to catch him up, I requested he be placed with a new teacher. It’s made a big difference in his progress. I stay on top of homework and attend parentteacher conferences. But my participation will only take my children so far. Our schools must share the responsibility and when they’re not holding up their end of the bargain, something must be done.
That’s why I welcomed the recent news that certain schools are being closed—schools that clearly aren’t providing students with a quality education. For instance, if I wanted to send my eighth grade daughters to one of the high schools closest to our home next year, they’d be attending Beach Channel High School. I refuse to let them go there. Not only is the graduation rate unacceptably low, it has a reputation for being dangerous.
Some people say we should give Beach Channel more time to improve, but at a certain point we have to face the facts. How many more children are we willing to let fall through the cracks before we take action?
I’m curious to see what new schools open up in the neighborhood because it would be great to keep my girls close to home, in a school that will help them get to college. If the new options don’t seem like the right fit, however, they’ll have to commute to another neighborhood because I refuse to sacrifice quality for convenience.
I hope other parents also understand the need to create better options for our children. We should not accept the choices we are being offered just because schools are conveniently located or because it is inconvenient to close down those schools that aren’t doing a good job. Our children’s futures are too important be silent in the hope the system will take care of them.
I constantly tell my children how important it is for them to study hard, get high grades and graduate. A good education is their golden ticket to a successful future.
As concerned parents it is our duty to give our children the best opportunities possible to achieve their dreams and become good citizens. If we want our children to contribute and give back to the community we need to ensure the community takes responsibility for giving them the tools to succeed.
Major Chiles lives in Far Rockaway. His two daughters attend Middle School 53 and his two sons attend PS 253.