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The Triumph of Hope*

Does your child's school measure up to your expectations...in every way? I thought not, since nothing's perfect. Read about my hopes for how schools might be if we lived in a more perfect world.

I’ve never been accused of being an optimist.

Neither a “half-full” nor “half-empty” glass person, I’m kind of in the “Yep, that glass has water in it” camp.

But I do wear rose-colored glasses on occasion – and on one in particular.  As Fall draws near I get a little thrill of excitement, something that can only be described as “hope” or “optimism” that this year, school will be even better than last for my kids.

It’s probably a halo-effect from my own youth. It always happened to me when the dog days seemed to drag on and I was dying to show off the new clothes, new hair style, new attitude -- and experience a brand new day.

It was, as they say about second marriages, the triumph of hope over experience.

Sadly, once school started, reality set in. Nothing had changed for the better. From my adolescent perspective, it was the same school, after all, just a different year. Same kids – the nice ones were still nice; the mean ones a little meaner but sneakier about it; the invisible ones, even more invisible -- classes were just as boring, teachers as quickly exasperated and bored themselves.

Unfortunately, similar realities set in for me as a mother of school-age children.  Not that I become cynical – because a lot of great things happen, too – but my overarching optimism that certain things that could be better, wanes as the year progresses, because it becomes obvious they won’t. At least not this year.

So here’s a prayer for the new school year, for lack of a better term. It’s non-religious but lists my hopes for what a school experience could be in a more perfect world.

Here goes:

A Random Prayer for the New School Year

I hope…

… my children’s full potential, educationally and developmentally, will be reached.

… they will be engaged and encouraged by their teachers and peers to strive for academic excellence and knowledge.

… their teachers will push high achievers to do more than just coast to get “A”s.

…the school district will bring back a curriculum for bored, high achievers in grade school.

… their schools won’t have to pass a bucket around at music concerts to make the music teacher’s salary.

… art will be a part of their day – every day.

… teachers won’t cut recess as a punishment when exercise is exactly what kids need for better behavior.

… school lunches will be healthier than microwaved plastic cheese on cardboard with a side of syrup.**

… parents won’t blame the teacher if Junior isn’t doing well grade-wise – especially if Junior simply isn’t doing the work.

…parents will not blame teachers for parents’ parenting mistakes.

… mean girls will lose “popularity” and the nice ones win it.

…mean girls’ parents will identify and put a stop to their daughters’ bad behavior.

… teachers won’t lose their patience with unruly, overly large classrooms by mid-year.

… class sizes will be appropriate for each grade.

…the school district will NOT change curriculums again this year because it’s the latest trend in education.

… teachers won’t feel the pressure to “teach to the test,” but according to each child’s need.

I could go on but will refrain for the sake of brevity. I am not totally without hope that some of these ideals will be reached, so let me end with this thought: when parents are willing to get deeply involved in change for the good, the sad “triumph of hope over experience” might just become a triumphant reality.***

*Molly Kelash wrote this as the official blogger-mom for Labels 2 Learn, an innovative label redemption program for schools and day care centers that makes it easy to earn money for the stuff your school needs.

**As I opened the newspaper today, I was pleased to read that federal requirements have imposed healthier standards for school lunches!

 ***One great way to make a difference in our schools is Labels 2 Learn, a label redemption program that simplifies the process of raising money for schools in a way that makes it easy for everyone. Learn more at www.labels2learn.com.

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