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Randy Speck

Superintendent , Madison District Public Schools

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Is it right for parents to takeover schools? Should "parent trigger" laws give families the ability to take over and manage schools?

Throughout the United States, there is a movement for parents to take a more active role in their local schools. Actually, a more active role is an understatement. The "movement" is for parents to be able to take-over their local school under what is called a "parent trigger." This happens if their local school is deemed to be low performing, as described by each individual state.

Parents have a right to be involved...any quality school will have strong parent and family involvement. But should parents be able to come in and manage the school?

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Closing Statement from Randy Speck

What a fantastic conversation and thanks to the TED community for participating. I also want to thank Ben Austin from Parent Revolution for getting involved in the discussion. Your insight was helpful to me, as a school leader.

The reality is, parents should be involved in their schools. They should have a say in the direction of their child's education. How that is accomplished may be a never-ending debate. As a school leader, I want my parents to be active in helping kids read and with their homework, but do to academic level of the family, that may not be an option. I want parents to be in attendance at parent-teacher conferences, football and basketball games, choral and dance recitals and any other activity that involves their child. However, I am also aware that working multiple jobs and shifts may make attending school events difficult, if not impossible. So how do we do this?

Unfortunately, my answer is little bit of "I don't know." But I do know it has to be a "we" that is involved. I don't believe legislatures can solve this issue. I don't believe for charter management companies can solve this problem. The main question becomes when and how are we going to make education in the United States a priority? When are we going to admit that students learn differently, therefore they should be assessed differently. That the neighborhoods you live in and the amount of resources (like food) that you have really do play a role in student achievement. Until we acknowledge...really acknowledge that socio-economics plays a factor, we may never be able to get passed basic debates.

Thank you again TED for being such a great place for people to safely communicate and share.

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  • Oct 14 2012: I believe that many children's problems in education are in the supposed adult masquerading as a parent. Could we try teaching conflict resolution, normalizing differences, and general acceptance of others in kindergarden through elementary. This might solve much of the bullying and the isolation [real or imagined]. Then when the hormones hit start a comprehensive program on parenting through to graduation. We unfortunately don't come into this world with a preset parenting program, we are taught by mostly faulty if not damaging parenting. When we abolished physical disipline we didn't replace it with workable alternatives and are now treated to examples of toddlers in full control of the entire family in any shopping mall in north america. Our teachers and law enforcement people are responding to lack of real parenting with eventually giving in to "why should I care" or the use of excessive force.
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      Oct 15 2012: "Could we try teaching conflict resolution, normalizing differences, and general acceptance of others in kindergarden through elementary"

      This is very much a priority in modern schooling, at least in the United States, over at least a decade and probably two or three in many places.

      This may be particularly true in metropolitan areas with diverse populations.

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