Op-ed | Is the District Scared to Let Parents Have a Say?

It seems the topic of bringing Informed Self-Select to the important Snoqualmie Valley middle school math pathway placement process has opened a proverbial ‘can of worms.’

Nearly 600 signatures (including Washington State 5th District Representatives and Senator, the mayor of Snoqualmie and multiple city council members) on a petition requesting the district draft an Informed Self-Select policy wasn’t enough to create urgency for the school board.

What sparked was an online debate – who’s the expert on kids; teachers don’t get enough respect; parents will push too hard if given a voice in the process; it’s a recipe for kids to be over placed and then stressed out. On and on it goes.

I say this – it’s about creating a collaborative process right from the start. Parents know their kids. Teachers know their students. Administrators know their tests scores. All three entities are a piece of the puzzle that represent the child.

Will it be perfect? Who knows. But we can work together to make it as perfect as possible. But fear and speculation shouldn’t paralyze us.

Ultimately it is parents who are charged with guiding their child’s future in an ever-changing world. So to leave parents out of an important process, only giving them a voice when appealing decisions made by teachers and administrators, seems to be a recipe for disenfranchising the family that most directly sees the impact of such decisions.

To assume if parents are given a say that they will push too hard only serves to further disenfranchise the very parents the district so desperately wants involved in students’ education.

This is about creating a whole team framework to support and guide the child. It’s about opening doors for every child that might accidentally get closed in the absence of parent input. It’s about the district giving parents all the pertinent input and data about their child and letting them have the final say.

This isn’t about examining motives and deciding who is really the expert. If a parent and child want access to a middle school class, why should they not be given the opportunity to try? Why should they have to prove why it’s important that they be given this access?

Middle school is too early to close doors.

This isn’t about teachers not being respected as professionals, or parents being pushy, or stress, or who is the expert on the child. It’s about choice and access – and creating an environment where parents, teachers and administrators are a team.

The district and the school board should embrace this opportunity to welcome parents into the course decision process. In fact, they should be welcoming them with open arms. Parents can do more for schools than be PTSA fundraisers and classroom volunteers.

Parents are asking, begging to be involved. Since when did that become a bad thing? Seems to me, it’s the key to success.

parent voice


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  • Sounds like this district needs to invest in a Family-School Partnership framework. There are many schools across the nation that use this framework and are very successful. Pedro Noguera, a leading voice on equity in education, states, “schools that strive to achieve equity must have strong parent, community, and school ties and a shared leadership rooted in a common understanding of the challenge and common vision.”

  • Everyone that pays property taxes should have a say even if they have no children since 57.53% of said taxes goes towards schools.

  • Living Snoqualmie