Mrs. Taylor Goes to Washington

04.29.2010 | HMMH |

by Laura Taylor* 

Having been selected a couple of months ago to be Parenting Magazine’s California delegate to their inaugural Mom Congress – I’ve heard the phrase “Mrs. Taylor Goes to Washington” a lot.                      

In the Frank Capra classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” a character named “Taylor” tries to undo Smith’s earnest and pure intentions.  Although I may not be as politically naïve as Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith,” I identify with Mr. Smith as my heart for children is very similar to his.

Of all the achievements or accolades I’ve garnered in my almost 50 years on earth, being a mother is the one of which I am most proud.  And what an exciting honor to represent Moms from California on the national education front!

As part of my preparation for this auspicious trip I’ve shared my task with a number of individuals in my community from elected officials (even the “Governator”) to local educators in the hopes that I could carry forward their concerns for education in California.  I hadn’t had much feedback until a recent conversation with a special education teacher.  She shared with me her concerns about the ever increasing drop-out rate in our school district and other districts across California.  There seems to be a point at which our schools stop engaging students and start force feeding them.  Shortly after this point, a number of kids shut down and may be lost forever to the education system.

I experienced some of this with my own children as I have a child in the 7th grade this year.  The tone of his education changed from one of engagement to one of “tough love to get ready for high school.”  It has been a matter of cramming a ton of information at him to comply with the requirements of standardized testing – which has left no room for teacher creativity or much-needed intervention.  This hasn’t worked well for my child and has only managed to take him from a kid who loved school to a kid who hates it.  As parents, my husband and I are working overtime to try to undo the damage done this year and keep my son on track.

It seems a simple, almost naïve, message to bring to Washington – “Please don’t drive our kids away from education” – but it seems I finally have my marching orders.  I head to Washington, DC this weekend and will share my experiences with you when I return. 

*Laura is Administrative Assistant to HMMH’s Sacramento Office.  HMMH is pleased to support her as she heads off to Washington!  HMMHers are actively involved in other community activities – details are here.