Last year, I joined the English Language Arts curriculum committee. Ostensibly, the committee meets and makes recommendations to the school board. Whether the committee really has a voice, I'm unsure.
I joined the committee because all of the committees have great representation from parents with connections to special education, but almost no representation from parents of advanced learners. It seemed like an interesting enough adventure.
The first meeting I went to was horrible. Not only did people on the committee not care about my kids sitting in classrooms drooling from boredom, they were openly hostile. At one point, just by mentioning that I was at the meeting because there had been an announcement at the gifted advisory committee that it might be a good idea to try and join a committee, a man (who is thankfully no longer on the committee) stood up and yelled at me about how until we solved the achievement gap, there was no way our committee was going to deal with anything else.
Now, step back in time with me a few years, before I was a parent, when I spent my days researching public policy for people with disabilities. Somehow, Ed, a friend of his, and I got into a discussion about education policy. His friend pondered whether the whole system would be better off if more resources had been sunk into him and Ed - the best and brightest in the class. I told him no, the system would not be better. That he was allocated plenty of resources and we should be worrying about whether we could get everyone ready to take a job.
Fast forward back to today. Now that I'm a parent with a kid sitting bored in class, my tune has changed. So I understand where this guy was coming from when he yelled at me (though it was a bit of an overreaction and an awkward first meeting, to say the least). But I'm also keenly aware that the achievement gap can be solved in one of two ways - you can bring the bottom up, or you can put bricks on the heads of the kids at the top. And I'm really not interested in seeing a brick on my kid's head - and I've become more concerned with levels than gaps. Every child ought to perform at the highest level they can.
And so it has come to pass that I just turned in a recommendations report that, prior to my pen, was focused almost solely on struggling learners, which now includes some important mentions of the County's first goal - which is to ensure that every student in the County is challenged and engaged. We will debate the report at our next meeting. I'm curious whether my edits will stay in and if they do, if it even matters.
I figure I might as well try, right? And if nothing else, I'll force a dozen people to sit and listen to the other side of the story for one meeting.