Monday, March 14, 2011

Speak Up...I can't hear you!

Recently, I had a " light bulb " moment. There was a recent event at my youngest son's school which caused some uproar and frustration among parents. We became angry with the choices and direction of our local school district. Please keep in mind, this is far from a new issue here in Arkansas. We are the home of "school based drama" from the Little Rock Nine (integration) all the way to desegregation cases to school choice act. We have, as do all states, our fair share of educational upheavals. But this event hit close to home and right in our neighborhood, literally.

As news spread of changes in the school, we, the parents, became frustrated and concerned. We had not heard of or even suspected of the changes in our school. The teachers we love and respect were being affected and we had to do something but what? As we spent a great portion of the night texting and posting to our social media outlets of choice we began to have some consensus about the overall feeling of dismay. We passed along contact information such as names and numbers. We vowed to make phone calls, send emails, and have a united front. Yea... we were on our way to making a difference, right?

The next day, there was obviously enough noise made as the parent teacher meeting had to focus some attention to addressing this matter. Our principal stood and spoke for a whole three minutes. She ended her very brief speech with "any other questions should be directed downtown [ to her supervisor]”. I felt the air leave the room and the momentum of change came to a screeching halt.

Now what?

I realize, as this experience is still evolving to this very day, that we complain but don't speak up. We have been programmed to accept the "word" of an authority figure without question. But why? If not the mothers and fathers of these children then who? I know parents are concerned as are most Americans but what keeps us from speaking up, standing up, and pushing for change?

Based on many conversation I have had and observations in my circle and in the circle of others, I have come up with three very distinct reasons why people don’t get involved when change is needed.

Reason 1: We are too busy. We don't take time to hear what is going on and decide if it’s worthy of action. Parents like me in their mid to late thirties are still focused on attaining wealth and prosperity. We are working so hard and so much we can't fathom the energy to fight back even when we know we need too. Somehow or somewhere we decided parenthood was about providing only. We continue to buy more things and gadgets to make up for the time we are spending away from home to buy more gadgets.

Reason 2: We are undereducated. With world wide web, we have become information overloaded and totally technology wasted. We see information passing us by with statistics, studies, and quotes so much that we no longer pay attention to the details. We no longer seek to verify and validate information. Instead, we chose to accept what we see in sound bytes, blogs, and blurbs. I say WE because I had to look at myself and found that I am as guilty as the rest of my circle. We use our remotes to surf from channel to channel looking for the station with the most information in the breaking story instead of reading about it and understanding the sources of information that feed us the news stories they deem worthy.

Reason 3: We don't think it matters in our circle. In spite of the work and change we see happening form the grassroots efforts which help gather support for Obama, to the Tea Party, to Egypt, REALLY? We still fear being seen as a radical. We sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else fight for their rights but choose not to fight for our own children. We have sidebar conversations about what we want yet we never talk to officials or board member about helping us get to a legitimate compromise. We use our social media to socialize but we don’t want to be the person that’s always got a cause, right?

I am always amazed at the number of people who call me when they are concerned about a local issue or ask me to lend my research skills and ideas about what "we" should do about "their" issue. But it never ceases to amaze me that no steps are taken and therefore things remain the same.

We all know that the smallest pebble can cause a ripple. So we can all be a small pebble in our areas of discourse, your circle of friends and your social network.To be the small pebble of change ,you should have a sense of direction as you encounter situations that require you to use your voice of change to speak up and be heard.

 So how can I make a change?

First, when you have an issue, decide what are the fundamental offenses and write them down.

Second, relax and remind yourself that I have a right to ask questions then formulate a respectful letter to request a meeting or create a dialogue.

Third, once your meeting is confirmed, write down the points you want to be sure to cover in the meeting.
Lastly, remember to relax because you have a right ask questions. Remember, this is not personal so be kind and gracious .

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So how do I make change in my small circle?

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