I had the privilege of attending Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress Conference on Education and Learning this year for the third year in a row, and as always I was bedazzled by the creativity and determination of these amazing women.
Mom Congress 2012 was held in Washington DC, April 29 through May 1st and opened with Parenting Magazine’s Editorial director, Ana Connery presenting this year’s themes: Parent-teacher connection and Global connectedness. Parenting Magazine along with the National Education Association (NEA) partnered for a ground-breaking joint survey of 1,000 public school parents and educators that explored the roadblocks to effective parent-teacher communication. The results were announced in a panel discussion at Mom Congress. “This year’s Mom Congress conference is dedicated to addressing the vital need for parent-teacher communication on behalf of students’ best interests—and to finding solutions to achieve it,” said Connery. “Parents want, and in many cases are taking, every opportunity to work collaboratively with teachers to play an active role in their child’s learning. Parenting is excited to work with partners like the NEA to foster conversations that give this passionate group of advocates the chance to support each other’s efforts to improve schools—and through each of Parenting’s national media properties, to help inspire millions of others to do the same.” For more information on this survey visit www.nea.org.
As always, I was delighted to hear Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education speak to the delegates of Mom Congress. This was Mr. Duncan’s third time speaking at Mom Congress and I find him engaging and delightful every time he speaks. Here are some of Mr. Duncan’s key points of 2012:
We are beginning to transform our education system and challenge the status quo. Remember – budgets are not just numbers on a piece of paper. They reflect our values.
We must strengthen and elevate the teaching profession in America and stop beating down our educators. We are investing 5 billion dollars to do this.
I’m as concerned as any parent or teacher about over testing and teaching to the test.
Forty-five states plus D.C. have signed on to the new Common Core Standards in Math and English. This means kids across the nation will learn the same thing beginning this coming fall.
There will be no more dumbed-down curriculum that makes school’s test scores look better. And future standardized tests, based on these Common Core standards, will test more critical thinking than memorizing.
Your role as parents is critical. The partnership you create with your child’s teachers and schools makes a big difference. For the complete Mom Congress speech presented by Arne Duncan visit http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/obama-record-education.
Another highlight was Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs for Save the Children. Mr. Shriver got straight to the point when he said, “It’s not sexy to talk about poor kids in America; it’s sexy to talk about poor kids in Africa. But, when 1 in 4 kids in this country live in poverty, look in the mirror and say stop fooling yourself, nothing is going to change unless you get fired up.”
Mr. Shriver’s recommendations were:
1. Get mobilized.
2. Get political action efforts behind you.
3. Get 5 – 10 friends to go with you if you want to have an impact. Visit www.savethechildren.org for more info. To view a video Mr. Shriver showed the Mom Congress group visit www.examiner.org.
Finally, Ellen Pritchard-Dodge of Kimochis, Toys with Feelings Inside, spoke about these adorable temperament characters, like Huggtopus and Bug, and the impact they can have on teaching children about their feelings. Ms. Pritchard-Dodge says, “I see massive changes in kids that have had the Kimochis. Kids are friendlier, patient, polite, conflicts are resolved more quickly.” According to their website, “Kimochis build character and confidence one feeling at a time.” Imagine what a world it would be if every child grew up possessing self-confidence and a strong character.
Another highlight of the conference was meeting up with my mentee in the 2012 Mom Congress, PA delegate Susan Rzucidlo. She is also running for State Representative for District 158, so I encourage you to learn more about her.
We had the honor of visiting the offices of Senator Casey and Senator Harkin on Tuesday. This was a great opportunity for us as a group to show our dedication to helping the TALENT Act move forward as well as discuss the issue of “educationally relevant,” with the request that the ESEA Reauthorization include a definition for this frustratingly vague term.
Spending time with the amazing delegates and speakers from Mom Congress continues to ignite my passion for education. I am convinced that with the efforts of so many dedicated people working to ensure that every child receives the best education possible, this dream is sure to turn into reality.