Sunday, June 10, 2007

I get to decide...

It is not who is right, but what is right, that is of importance. –Thomas Huxley

Some people contend that the math debate is about education for all vs. education for the elite few, or liberal vs. conservative, or even democrat vs. republican. Some argue that it’s about race or class or gender.

I don’t see it that way at all. It’s certainly not about any of that for me. For me it is not a "political" issue at all, but it is certainly a very personal one.

It’s unfair and extremely shortsighted to stereotype me. Those who do, know nothing about me or what motivates me to use my voice. They think they know me and even worse, they think they know my children. They might be surprised at just how wrong they are.

It might surprise them to know that I don’t fit the stereotype they depict in their rants. I am an Hispanic. I am a first generation American, child of an immigrant, who grew up in a working class neighborhood. I am also a first generation college graduate, with degrees (undergraduate and graduate) from UCSD and UCLA. I worked my way through college and understand the value of diligence, perseverance, and plain old hard work. I watch Bill Maher, The Colbert Report and have never voted for Bush (either of them). I read almost everything, from Rudyard Kipling to Harry Potter. My favorite authors are Cervantes, Umberto Eco, and Isabel Allende. The World Is Flat is perhaps one of the most thought provoking books I have read in awhile. I am currently reading A Thousand Splendid Suns. Even with this "snapshot" someone could not begin to fathom who I am or what I believe in.

When it comes to my ideas about my children’s math education, I am not a race, class, or gender. I am neither democrat nor republican. I am neither rich nor poor, urban nor rural, traditional nor reformist.

I am a parent.

I have a right to participate in the education of my children and to work with the public school system to assure that their needs are being met. I would argue even further, that I have a duty to do so.

It would be less than truthful to say that I don’t worry about other people’s children in the process. I often consider what this means to the future of our nation. But that doesn’t give me the necessary insight to know what’s best for someone else’s child. That does not give me the right to judge them as parents.

I can only stand up for my own children. It is my job. It’s not the exclusive responsibility of schools, districts, states or the nation to decide what is best for my children. That's why I pay taxes. That's why I vote. That's why I get involved with my children's education.

The decision makers in the public schools, districts, states and the nation work for me. I work for my children. I don't have to take what anyone says as gospel, and I have the perogative to challenge everything. You do too.

Contrary to what some people think, most parents are actually pretty savvy. We can do the research, we can weigh the sources of information, and we can come to a decision about what we believe will work for our children. Others are entitled to their own ideas, and I am entitled to believe those ideas or not.

When you put all the arguing aside, I believe that most parents genuinely want the same thing I do. They want what’s best for their children. They have a right to want that. They have a right to fight for that, and ultimately to decide whatever that may mean to them personally.

At the end of the day, it’s not about being right, it’s about doing the right thing. And when it comes to my children, I get to decide what the right thing is.

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