My husband and I are good parents, involved parents, educated parents. Since the moment our children entered the world, we have dedicated our lives to advocating on behalf of our daughter and son while also holding them accountable for their behavior. I think we have done a pretty good job.
However, our daughter now sits in a Math III classroom with no textbooks, no clearly defined curriculum and no hope of passing this course. Our honors 10th-grader is feeling overwhelmed and discouraged as she watches her dreams of attending N.C. State University slowly fade with each failing grade. It doesn’t take Common Core math to realize that a 4.4 GPA (the average GPA of high school students admitted to her desired major) simply is not possible with her current math scores.
As parents, we have done all of the right things to support our daughter. We have met with her teacher and communicate with her often. My daughter attends free after-school tutoring offered by her Nationally Board Certified teacher twice a week. In addition, we secured a qualified math tutor at $40 per hour who meets with my daughter weekly to provide additional one-on-one instruction. We have sought online resources, and our daughter spends approximately one hour per night on math homework or supplemental practice.
We have concluded that the problem does not lie exclusively with my daughter or her teacher. It is so much larger. A phone call to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction Math Curriculum Specialist offered little support and instead directed me to contact our local county school administration. The county, in turn, directed me back to NCDPI and reminded me of the legislative battle that has been unfolding within our state over the Common Core curriculum. I then reached out to my local government officials who shifted the blame to the opposing party’s political agenda.
So, if you are keeping score:
• The Republicans blame the Democrats. The Democrats blame the Republicans.
• The state blames the county. The county blames the state.
• Most parents blame the teacher. Good teachers are blaming themselves.
• And, at the end of the day, honors students – like my daughter – are still failing math.
We understand that changes are being made to address these issues for future students, but our family is concerned about the current students in our system. What is being done to ensure these high school students are not collateral damage in our state’s educational battles? Who is going to explain to the admissions offices and the scholarship committees examining our children’s transcripts that these grades are not reflective of their ability or their work ethic but, instead, reflect a broken system? We have given our daughter every possible resource to be successful, but what about those students who lack transportation for after-school tutoring or who cannot afford a private tutor? Who is speaking for them?
North Carolina once believed that no child should be left behind. However, in only a few short years, we have transformed that message to an “every man for himself” mindset. Our state’s students and teachers deserve better, and it is time to stop playing politics and shifting the blame with our educational system. North Carolina students may be failing math, but North Carolina is failing these students, and this issue should concern everyone.
Amy Robinette lives in Pinetops.