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It's a Struggle to be a Progressive Educator Whose Child Goes to a Traditional High School

Since Logan started high school I've struggled.

It actually goes back farther than high school, but in the lower schools, it was easier to stay out of his business at school as it wasn't directly related to the content and area I worked in when I was working in schools.

As a high school English teacher and a curriculum director after, I worked in mostly secondary spaces, putting students at the center of everything. I've advocated for student voice and choice in learning decisions and have gone as far as getting rid of grades to promote a better sense of mastery and reflection in our day to day learning environments.

Since I taught AP Literature, I am aware of the concerns of testing and even more aware of the strengths and deficiencies I had to teach into to help prepare my students for college and life.

Now that Logan is in 9th grade, I've been practicing my patience and staying out of what goes on at school. I simply don't want to put a target on his back by being the outspoken, opinionated parent who makes his life hell at school for the next three and a half years.

Fortunately, he is a smart kid who has learned to play school exceptionally well. To his credit, he has created a routine where he comes home from school, does his ample homework and only then does he retire to his video games.

I'm proud of him for learning to prioritize his learning, but I'd be lying if I said that my blood doesn't boil when I hear stories of his day or I read descriptions of assignments on the parent portal. For example, one teacher gave him a 50/50 on a graded class discussion.

When I read it, I was both proud and horrified at the same time.

Before I got too nuts about it, I tried to assume the positive.

"Hey Lo, did you get a rubric about how you were being graded on your "graded discussion"?"


"Do you know what was being assessed?"

"Not really. But I got a 50/50, so who cares."

If you could have seen my face, it was a real, palm-in-face moment. I couldn't blame him for feeling the way he did, but come on.

I agree that students need to be assessed all of the time to make sure they are learning, but I don't agree with random grading and scoring that isn't adequately communicated to kids just to fill space in a grade book.

Since Logan is just starting high school, I suspect I will need to create or join a 12 step program for other parents like me because I don't want to make trouble for him.

It is more than a little disappointing, though, that my home district is so far behind the 8-ball.

Why do parents have to send their children to private schools to get a progressive education? All children should have access to thoughtful and engaging curricula. When are we going to understand that rigor isn't about more work? When are we going to understand as a system that constant testing, homework, and random grading does not serve students?

It's time for change... I'm glad I get to work with schools that are ready for it. It's unfortunate that there aren't more schools making these essential and necessary changes.

Are you a progressive parent in a traditional school, how do you deal with it? Please share

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2 commentaires

Starr Sackstein
Starr Sackstein
28 nov. 2019

It’s so true and we have to do what we can to not contribute to the problem.


I feel the same! My daughter is in 9th grade also and I'm trying to let it all go. I can't change that school but I can change MY classroom! I'm trying but it's a hard mold to break with the students. They are so hyper-focused on grades.

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