This morning I went to a breakfast meeting sponsored by our local community college to discuss opportunities for dual enrollment for high school students. Most community colleges offer this kind of program, in which high school students can take classes at the community college for both high school and college credit.
The vast majority of those in attendance were guidance counselors from local public high schools, and one private school was represented. As an icebreaker, we were asked to complete this writing prompt at our tables: "If I had a magic wand, I would…" I chose to be the scribe at our table, because I could only think of things like, "… have my house clean when I get home" and "…eat chocolate cake every day without gaining weight." Those are not the kinds of wishes that the rest of the participants at my table were expressing. They were saying things about "funding" and "enthusiasm" and "time."
My wishes are, indeed, simple. Sure, I'd love to have a portion of the money that is allotted per student in our school district (over $8000/year per student). Just magic-wand $1000 of that per child my way—no strings attached— and I'd be thrilled! But really, I just want the days to run smoothly, for my kids to be happy, and for there to be all the ingredients in my refrigerator for a delicious supper.
After a few minutes the six or so tables were asked to share their wish lists. The very first man—a counselor at a huge high school—said that he wished for stable families, and specifically for parents who were married and committed. I was amazed by this: he said that out of the top 6 students in this year's senior class where he is a counselor, 5 of the students come from 2-parent homes with involved parents. The sixth student, he explained, had a 2-parent family but the mother recently died. Wow.
Around the room the magic wand wishes echoed, and I was struck by how blessed we are to be homeschooling. I'm not saying that homeschooling is the magic wand that will solve all educational problems, but so many of the reasons that people choose to homeschool were expressed as wishes by these counselors and teachers:
* I wish we didn't have to do so much standardized testingSure, there was a lot of funding talk, too, but I really sensed the frustration in these counselors. They seemed to have the "our hands are tied" syndrome: we see what's needed, but we can't do much about it. I'm glad to know that there are so many counselors in the school systems who see core needs and are trying to find ways to fill the needs. I hope they have a strong voice in their schools, although their wishes were usually followed by heavy sighs.
* I wish the kids had stable homes
* I wish the kids had a love of reading
* I wish parents would keep parenting when their kids are in high school
* I wish parents would keep nurturing their kids when they are teenagers
* I wish everyone would realize that all kids are different and need different things and that we didn't have to teach to the middle
* I wish we could spend more time giving them what they really need
* I wish kids could see the value of education and learning
* I wish we had more time
What would your magic wand in your life today?