Posted by: Kate | May 11, 2009

Whose Responsibility Is It?

I have been involved in a few discussions around school planning recently — where to spend the money, where to make cuts, what is important to keep, etc. These are tough decisions every district is faced with (and some much more than others).

When you get a group of parents and educators in a room and let them write down what their priorities are in schools, you get a crazy long list. You can fill sheets of things that people think should be taught or available in our schools. But people need to remember that this isn’t a limitless purse. Everything on the list needs to be paid for, needs funds to run. Right now our budgets are being cut, and over 90% of the budget goes to staff costs. So, the pie slice isn’t all that big.

It’s like having the discussion about extra-curricular activities. “Well, you can either do swimming, or you can do the music lessons. You can’t do both.” These are the realities of living within your means, and our school districts are no different (especially with no-deficit laws in place).

Ask those same parents and educators what can go, and the discussion gets more interesting. I have seen some ideas that have shocked me (cutting down on librarians – huh what? We already share librarians among the schools.) and others haven’t made a lot of sense. The question I ask at the table is, “At what point do we say, this is the responsibility of the family, of the parents? When do we say, you need to teach your children those lessons?”

These are tough times with less and less funding, yet we seem to ask our educators to provide an ever increasing all-round academic, social, athletic (and more) education  – from birth now, as mandated by the government. It’s time to ask ourselves what are we, as parents, supposed to teach?

FYI: I don’t often share my professional work, as most of it is for the corporate world and it just feels odd anyhow to share that side of my life. However I have had an article published recently in a parenting magazine, and it is available online as well as in the magazine. For those of you who are interested (it is about young, advanced readers but the tips are good for encouraging all young readers) it is available here.



  1. This is an interesting post…I don’t have children but I do have a mom who is a teacher (LD) and some of her stories are pretty frustrating.

    I read through your article for young readers and it brought back this one memory. I was a pretty advanced reader and my parents struggled with some of the same issues…keeping enough reading material within reach that was age appropriate. One week when I was about 9 or 10 I was at the library and I picked out a Judy Blume book (one of her young adult ones that had been mis-shelved). I was reading it in the car on a trip when I got to a section on pubic hair and didn’t know what that was. So I asked my parents. I thought my dad was going to drive off the road! And the look on my mom’s face was classic! The poor librarian got an earful about having that book placed where she did. I, of course, found the whole thing rather amusing! :)

Welcome! I always like to hear what people think of a post, it often leads to a great discussion! I am now responding to comments and questions right in the comments themselves, so other people can follow the conversation.

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