Education, Parenting

Standing Up 4 Public Schools: My interview with Montel Williams and Thomas Gentzel

This is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated in any way


I wanted to tackle the subject of education a bit and to have had the opportunity to interview Montel Williams and Tom Gentzel, the Executive Director of The National School Board Association was the perfect way to bring you some useful information. I live in Washington State where we just passed to allow Charter Schools and although I am a Mom to 3 boys all in the public school system, as well as a daughter of a public elementary school teacher, a PTA Co-President and employee in the nutrition department of our local School District, I had looked into Charter Schools at one point. I did a lot of research and came to some common conclusions as to why there is much better value in the public school system despite all of its testings and quirks that my boys will benefit from over Charter Schools. I am not biased, I love that we have choices as parents as to which education system our kids may fit best in, but for those on the fence I wanted to share with you my thoughts. It is these thoughts that guided the questions I decided to ask Mr. Williams and Mr. Gentzel.

The Interview

I asked a a total of 3 questions to Tom Gentzel and Montel Williams. 
  1. What would you say to parents who may be on the fence with pulling kids from the public school system and entering the Charter School system?
  2. In respect to each grade level (Elementary, Middle School and High School), what main point do you stress as to why you are advocates for the Stand Up 4 Public Schools campaign?
  3. As a Mother to a college-bound High Schooler, what support does the NSBA give to departments such as Guidance for college readiness and supporting parents?
Public vs. Charter Schools

I can make a 10 paragraph post and still not scratch the surface or satisfy what everyone needs to hear so I will condense the answer I was given by Tom Gentzel on this topic and my thoughts. Mr. Gentzel has 3 boys such as I do. He states that each of his boys are different in personality (as are mine) and Charter Schools are good in the respect of providing choices for parents. However, what you do not get with Charter Schools that you do in public schools is accountability! Public schools have standards of education as well as finances and every dollar spent and every lesson created has to meet standards and be accounted for. These standards and means of accountability are created with how they will directly effect the kids. Charter schools answer to no one in those regards. There is no accountability such as within the public institution. 

I loved this answer because as I dabbled in the thought of trying Charter Schools, accountability came to my mind as well. In all of my research on the pros and the cons of Charter Schools, I could not find any valid statement to say that Charter Schools does not allow others to profit off of our children. I could not find who is responsible for the educators within these Charter Schools to keep on lesson plans and make sure the kids are up to standards for the next level of education. They have plans and they have lessons, but without accountability, you wonder who your child is spending 6 hours a day with and if they are truly being taught and readied for the next year. The accountability is non-existent! I kept coming to the same conclusion that they want money and some guy named ‘Joe or Bob’ will tell me if I pay and send my child they’ll make sure he’s educated enough. Hmmmm. I searched for the proof that I am wrong in my thinking and simply came up with no valid reason I may be wrong. So my children remain in public schools where I know they are backed by boards and educators being held accountable. 

Why are you Advocates for Stand Up 4 Public Schools?

Montel took on this question with a valid point”…because it works and always has!”. He’s right in that public schools have brought up our children with an over 80% successful graduation rate and have produced some high-level, well-respected men and women. Many CEO’s of major corporations and many influencers all are product of public education. It simply is the best opportunity out there to prepare our children for success and entering the work force. It’s what we have always used and it has always worked.

Now, public education has had its ups and downs such as any institution will have and I believe we are a bit in a down right now. But public education always bounces back and it will do just that. I’m not suggesting that those that homeschool or those that choose Charter Schools will not produce successful adults, I am simply saying that having your child in the public school system will not be setting your child up for any kind of failure-they will grow and they will learn. Some states have adopted the Common Core and standardized testing for the students in public schools and my Sate is one of those. I hate it! I don’t think it will last. Those frustrated about these tests need to perhaps realize that it may be only but a trial thought and I hope it will not last forever. But because public schools are held accountable, they need to respond to our demands as parents, educators and employers regarding the structure of the schools. If we do not form such campaigns, we hardly have a voice. We need to tell them what is working, what is not working and what may work. We need to speak up, get involved and be heard and that is what this campaign is all about.

Public schools and college readiness

Tom Gentzel took on this question and the answer he gave me really made me realize that my thoughts about the school’s responsibility to raise my stepson up have been a bit backwards. He did mention these core testings and standardized tests and how unfair it is to measure a child based on one test. It is obvious that he does not support these tests and I was so glad to hear that. He touched on the subject of cuts and programs-guidance department being one of them that we need to fix before we cut. So did that answer my question as a Mom who has spent hours and hours researching college readiness for my son only to feel alone in my researching as his guidance counselors seem to have little time to devote? Even if I can grab their attention for help or answers, they seem rushed or overloaded. So I mentioned that as I asked my question. The fact that he did not directly answer (mainly due to time) told me a lot and I learned something very valuable.

There are those that get loud and holler because the schools are simply not paying enough attention to each, individual child. I can keep getting frustrated that I have to do so much work with little help from my stepson’s school on trying to build a college road map for him. Why have I been so frustrated? This is where I have it all wrong as many do. The public school system is only one influence on your child, YOU are the other and the most important. It is not ‘Counselor Joe’s’ responsibility to raise my child, but be of guidance to him. And it is not the counselors responsibility to hold every parents hand for every student they manage as well. It is a counselors job to make sure our child is registered, set up in correct classes and have goals. It is our job as parents to ready, prepare and instill values. The school is not solely responsible for raising a well-educated, respectful adult- parents hold the most responsibility. Schools are a tool we use and need to help get them there. I am not sure he had that in mind for me as we went through this question, but it is what I took from it. If we don’t have these public schools to use as a tool, what would we have? Nothing! We would have nowhere to turn to teach and empower our kids. 
About Stand Up 4 Public Schools campaign
I highly encourage you to head to the Stand Up 4 Public Schools campaign page
  • Sign the pledge
  • Become engaged
  • Be heard
  • Get informed
  • Get strategic
  • Get results
We count on this institutions to guide us in raising our children. We cannot expect perfection, we cannot demand the impossible. However, we can make a statement. We can show support as the most valuable gift we can give our children as students is the view they have as they watch us support, get involved and take a stand for their future. Leaders do not sit still, they are not silent. Be a leader and a parent and help our schools help our children. I believe in the education my children have. My oldest step son is doing well beyond public education and the younger 2 of our boys who are still in school are flourishing. Their school does not define them, but it does guide them and keep them on track providing lessons and structure I am not confident to give from my own home. Please sign the pledge today to demand world class education for our kids!
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