I personally know more than a handful of parents who moved out of WW-P complaining it’s hard for kids to survive or have an enjoyable and stress-free school life. But when they face the prospect of living in a less affluent town, some regret leaving here, asserting “WW-P is WW-P” and there are no better alternatives out there.
There are others who love to complain, but are unwilling to participate in finding solutions to problems, or fail to channel those concerns productively. We lack an organized forum to address critical needs of our students.
The school board is perceived as a group of bureaucrats sitting far from the community—half-way disconnected and making decisions impacting students, parents and community life. Let’s examine this undesirable junction we are in at this point and it’s an important responsibility to all who have invested in WW-P for their kids’ life and their future.
Another group of parents with available resources move to private schools, only to find that the competition is even fierce there between similar economically advanced families, Some wish they didn’t take that deviation into high school. Most in that group don’t end up getting into the specific college they wanted and regret so much money thrown away.
Why don’t we stay within the system and work to improve it’s merits so the current and future generation benefit?
There was a discussion initiated by a parent recently asking why we don;t consider alternate and progressive grading methods such as A, B+ or A- that many school districts and colleges follow.
Some advised the parent to contact the school board. I also read a rough suggestion, “do not complain, it is as it is, tell your kid to work hard and get an A.” I wish it was that easy for our students. I know many of them with A-grade level skills and abilities, who work hard and spend sleepless nights with competing priorities of school life, to maintain even a B or sometimes struggling get a B in our false and unfair grading system.
They are surviving in an unfair environment with some students literally feeling hostile moments at times. To many, hard work doesn’t always reward back with success in the near term, though we all preach that mantra to our kids.
Yet working hard gives them a real chance and the best they could deliver within the system perimeter, and the consolation to these unrewarded souls is that they will succeed in career and life remarkably well.
Almost all of the students I know who went through our academic rigor over the years have found success after school life. They are better prepared to face the outside world. And because outside world is not fair either, the walls (or lack of them) at WW-P prepares them well enough to handle that. Be it at college, admissions or corporations that tout equal opportunity but don’t practice it.
As their senior year concludes, they come out as world class citizens. You won’t even recognize their freshman picture from 4 years ago, because they did hit many walls that shaped them
That confident citizen is groomed inside them seamless by WW-P and by careful guidance by their concerned parents helping them to work through the system at every (often confusing) turn.
Changing the grading structure is a valid discussion point to be brought up to the school board. But not limited to the letter grades alone. Teachers teach and grade differently on the same subject and topic, and it’s a real pain point against equal opportunities to excel on the letter grades.
These and some other anomalies create a learning environment of “unequal opportunities” to our kids, who are really sincere and willing to work as much as time and ability permits. In some cases, parents complain that the situation has been deteriorated significantly from the past.
These are not done purposefully by the school board or our teachers, and as such we are not blaming someone for doing anything wrong. It has been the way it was.
It’s about reforming our education system with what is right. If we do it now, a generation of students will benefit from our experience and effort. If we don’t do anything, the impact will be harsher not only on our students but to the glamorous view of our system among peers to the extent this could impact the real estate values.
Saying, “my kid is not in the school anymore,” is not a reason when you still live in our towns and would like to see home values improve or stay at current levels. Some say, “it is what it is, the system can’t be changed.” I heard that directly from many disappointed parents. That’s the most pessimistic view of life you can entertain. It’s also common and easy to find others at fault, and you comfortably forget you are the ‘other’ for the other person.
No system in the world has improved without criticism. I’m told, “we cannot openly criticize the system, because my kid could be retaliated against.” I believe that’s a misplaced fear.
I do see a real gap between parents/students desires or expectations, and the school board decisions on critical matters that directly impact students and their academic performance.
Because the board doesn’t represent all parents and parent interests (only US citizens can vote to elect board members and a large fraction of parents are not eligible to vote), we shouldn’t let students continue to struggle on areas where solutions do exist.
Genuine ideas and concerns should be communicated on a responsible forum for meaningful discussions, community engagement and to arrive at decisions leading into solutions to problems or advancement. Our students also experience unequal learning resources beyond the school system, because of economic imbalance, which is another serious issue to address.
If you want to make a change, be part of that effort from within. To join the initiative that we started in Plainsboro (Voice of Plainsboro), please search “Plainsboro Peeps” on Facebook or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do have most of the school board members and other community leaders invited into this group, willing to listen!
— Prasannakumar Padinhareveetil, Plainsboro