The purpose of this blog is to encourage Parents to stand up and help. But not just by “making a donation” and then retiring your efforts. When I titled this blog “Be Your Own PTA” it was almost as if I’m a bit concerned for the side line Parents (and Grandparents) who love to criticize a school, or criticize the PTA/PTO at the incumbent school, or criticize the Principal. Or Donald Trump or their neighbor…blah, blah blah. Yes, I understand constructive criticism needs to be taken by all human beings. But ‘criticizing’ another person, or entity, is very low on the productive scale. In other, being critical (and gossipy) is a complete waste of time.
Instead of pointing the finger and criticizing, I would like to pledge this blog as ‘standing up’ for an idea that I believe in. An idea that I have supported with massive loads of “action”. As a Father who supports Educators and all involved, I believe ALL parents are responsible for being strongly involved in the development of the human being they decided to bring into this world. Regardless, if you decide to be a good Parent or a bad Parent, the Teachers, Admin, PTA, etc. all still have to show up and help your child. Right? Right.
The common denominator is the school, the Educators and the supportive groups around them. As long as the structure is standing, the Educators, Staff, and the PTA (if there is one) have to do their jobs. They have to show up and help your child develop into a contributing human being. As a Dad, I ask “how could this not be important?”. It’s just really important. Like, super important. I just wanted to make sure I was clear with my message on this idea and how important it is. Okay…
If we decide to be good parents with our children and contribute time, money and energy to the school then that’s just gravy to the School, right? Probably not. It’s likely they really need you along with your time, money and energy. And if you decide to be a bad parent with your children and not give a crap about their education and the school then they lose, right? Right. It’s likely it’s not always that black or white of a scenario with parenting, but those are the 2 ends of the spectrum. Good parent or bad parent. Regardless of the good parent/bad parent ratio, Educators have to show up to work and essentially raise your child. Yes, 7 hours per day is ‘raising your child’. Don’t hate, don’t argue just appreciate. It’s math, you can’t argue it. My son is with his Teacher 140 hours per month. That’s nearly 6 complete 24 hour days. That number is like the Good Year blimp sitting in my head telling me that I need need to be involved and understand what my kids are learning and how they’re learning it.
As a Parent, especially a 2018 Dad, I think it’s ridiculously important to think very hard about HOW you want to contribute to your child’s education experience. How are you helping define direction? What do you want to improve? How do you want to get involved? What do you want to contribute? These are all insanely important questions. If you’re a Teacher reading this please pass it along to a parent and let them read this blog. This topic, yes, is insanely important.
When my 5 year old son broke his leg on the ski slopes during Kindergarten, I was eager for him to have a stand up desk once he was out of his wheelchair. I thought “he’s going to get sores on his ass after sitting down for 4 months”.
I spoke to his principal about stand up desks and she had already looked into it. She was already open minded to these ideas so I saw that as a head start. Her efforts were being delayed because funds were not prioritized for furniture for that year but PTA was willing to look at it the following year. It was obvious PTA was already super busy and the desks were already uber expensive. There was a few obstacles in my idea of getting my son this stand up desk but I was willing to make it happen.
I asked the principal for permission to start a GoFundMe to raise money for stand up desks for the whole school. I did not want my Son to be the only kid in the school to have a stand up desk (would’ve been kind of cool though). I wanted to be fair and reasonable. I offered to raise enough money for 5–6 standing desks. We raised enough money in the first couple weeks. I was blown away how fast I made it happen. So, the plan was to create a rotation schedule for these desks so all classrooms could request the desks and get a fair shot at standing up.
My Plan Worked! And my efforts took some pressure off of PTA and created some positive energy amongst the students. To create a campaign, then watch it grow into something real is still a shocking experience for me. So many people hate on social media and this “new world” we’re in but I think it’s fascinating. I have since done 3 more campaigns and I’m getting ready to do another one. I just see it as reallocating wealth to important and vulnerable areas. It’s 2018, if you want to see some changes at your child’s school, stop criticizing and get to work. The power of crowd funding is a game changer.
Fast forward 2 years… my son is in 2nd Grade and excelling in school. Leg all healed. up. In the Fall, he was reading at 20 wpm. He’s had a stand up desk for over 5 months and he’s now reading at 80+ wpm. The credit needs to go to his Teacher but it feels good to be a contributing teammate. Not to mention, he rarely gets in trouble for “not sitting” still because he’s allowed to stand now. And not to mention from that whole experience I made a decision to start manufacturing my own stand up desks for kids in the classroom. StandUpOurKids.com. And I’m still advocating for kids to have the opportunity to stand up in school. “Being my own PTA” opened so many doors for me and my family. It’s amazing what happens when you ‘stand up’. I fully support PTA but be a realistic parent and understand they can’t serve ALL your needs exactly when you need them. You’re going to have to stand up and pitch in yourself. Hey, maybe you’ll end up with your own organization, like me.
StandUp Dad- Derek Lopez