ReThink

Today the Topeka Capital Journal reported the USD 330 proposal of a four-day school week will save $88,000, and retain teachers.

Jerod Gustin, a parent in the district, states “Teacher-student contact time needs to be as high as it can be.” I wonder if he realizes that suggests we have an official Nanny State. Do we really want publicly funded boarding school? (Read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley) Educational research shows that it’s actually increased parent-child time that increases a child’s knowledge and learning, IF the child lives in a loving, nurturing environment.

So here’s a broader idea: school-neighborhood community gardens.  When first confronted with the idea of having to find outside care for my student on the fifth day, wouldn’t it be great if I could afford(in dollars and production time lost) to take the day off with my child? Employer compensation for employee participation in school food gardens would benefit the entire community. Schools can extend the Presidential Challenge program to teach families about food nutrition and the benefits of an active lifestyle.

Families are suffering in current economic standards, and with employment down its hard to put food on the table. Public schools could best benefit their patrons by providing a site for food gardens. On the fifth day, parents and students can work in the gardens, while teachers and students work the garden throughout the week, incorporating math, science, reading & writing into a project-based curriculum. Employers could pay an employee for the day off if that parent works in his/her child’s school garden. At harvest time food can be distributed to school families first. Surplus harvest items can be sold at market to further fund school garden learning.

As a working parent, I often feel guilty that I don’t have more opportunity to volunteer at my child’s public school, but I’ve got to earn money to supplement my husband’s income. He has a heavy work load, and even with adequate paid vacation, he is still overworked. 1/5 of children in the U.S. live at or near poverty, and they are struggling to learn for several reasons, directly related to their environment. Mr. Gustin also asks “How does the struggling student make it [without the teacher]? I say, with the parent. As a society, not only must we reconnect with nature, but we must also reconnect as communities. I know this is a difficult shift in social structure. Currently parents are entirely over-worked and over-stressed, while schools struggle to provide more support for families without funding. With local business support, parents and children can connect to their communities without risk, and employers retain dedicated workers who receive moral benefit from participating in social events with their children.

As a teacher I’ve learned much from Last Child in the Woods, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, The Worm Cafe, Worms Eat Our Garbage, and countless other articles absorbed for research at WU. Check out my links! Feel free to comment!

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