OurFocusOurKids.com Comes to The Patch

I am honored to accept an invitation from the Banning-Beaumont Patch to add posts from my blog, OurFocusOurKids.com to their website. This will give me an opportunity to reach more readers and encourage more parents to get involved in their kids' education. Look for my posts on The Patch beginning May 4th.

For those of you who may have never visited my site, I think my first post to appear in The Patch should provide an example of what I have been writing about over the last few years.

This is the fourth school year I have been attending Beaumont Unified School District board meetings and blogging about what I believe are issues important to parents. I attend school board meetings so you don't have to. My goal is to increase parent involvement in our schools. Study after study has proven that parent involvement is one of the most important factors to a successful student and eventually a successful adult.

The recession we are in has seriously reduced the amount of money available to our public schools and it has tested our school administrators. For decades, our public school administrators, and educators, have lived in a culture of ever increasing annual budgets. They have operated on the assumption that in order to receive as much money as possible next year they would have to spend everything they get this year.

In California, there is a law that mandates 39% of the state's budget must go to the schools. During the last 20-30 years the state experienced tremendous growth and so did our schools' budgets. During that time our schools' performance compared to other states with less money has continued to deteriorate. Over the last few decades I've heard very few teachers or administrators complain about the poor performance of our school system. I have heard how they never have enough money and I've watched the schools eliminate the programs and services I grew up with, even as spending per student increased. Throwing more money at the problem is not the solution.

Now as our state deals with an economy in recession, budgets are being slashed but our administrators and union leaders are resistant to change their culture. They continue to operate under the assumption that a return to the days of annually increasing budgets is just around the corner. With the state's real estate market in a shamble, unemployment at record levels, inflation beginning to grow, and for the first time, more businesses and residents leaving the state than moving here, the good old days won't be returning anytime soon. School budgets are shrinking with the economy, they are being reduced each year, the culture needs to change. 

Parent involvement is the only resource that our kids have to count on. Involved parents are needed to provide the encouragement our district and school board needs to change their culture. Our district's administrators are resistant to involving parents in the planning and decision making at the district level. They believe providing classes and programs for parents to provide them the tools they need to support their kids at home is all they are required by law to provide. They don't see the value in becoming partners with parents and working together to face the difficult decisions that need to be made.

Over the last four years, I have worked to increase parent involvement. I've tried to keep parents informed about what is happening in our schools. I have noticed a small increase in parent involvement. I'm no longer the only parent attending board meetings and asking the tough questions. I've also watched some of our board members begin to ask tough questions and provide the oversight for which we elected them. 

Convincing our school board, and the administrators that work for them, that parent involvement must increase has been my only agenda. This is why I started OurFocusOurKids.com. This is why I continue to attend board meetings and write about what I see. I have been warned I have become a threat and I've been told I need to be a little more patient. My son is in kindergarten and my daughter is finishing third grade. So many parents tell me, "before you know it they will be graduating from high school and going off to college." I don't have time to be patient.