Part 3. A new parent’s experience with school

Being involved, even at arm’s length, with the schools of one’s children is challenging. We would not encroach upon the professional role of teachers. Then, to modify what is taught would be a systemic matter; a central educational authority would need to be involved.  Therefore, what would be the responsibilities of a parent-involved school Board? Were we only advisory? Did we have right to govern; if so, in what areas? What if the parents on the Board, representing the needs of our community, had a concern about the way some of our children were being educated? What if some new educational fad was being adopted without any community consultation? Did the community have a right to be consulted? Well, we were now free to ask, without being considered anxious or difficult.

The foundation school boards in the national capital of Australia attracted high-quality parent involvement. Canberra, set in a desert, was nevertheless well-endowed. It was primarily a public service (head offices) and university city, supported by necessary private sector services. Senior lecturers, colonels, and public sector directors made a great contribution, including dampening unrealistic community expectations of what is achievable. Many of us had management and/or policy experience.

The Board at my school was successful, because the parents on it made a substantial contribution in our own right. (We were not a glee club, as developed some years later.) We re-wrote the school’s manifesto, extolling our educational objectives, using the knowledge of the 2 qualified psychologists on board (one of whom was a practising Quaker); the third parent, an accountant, helped with budgeting. We also wrote the outline of a program to educate our children about religion. Lesson 7 – lead when given the opportunity.