Parents on 
a mission

Last modified: 5/11/2015 7:07:11 PM
I am a very concerned parent that started a conversation with another parent about what was happening in our elementary school: the lack of recess, the uninspiring workload, and the crazy emphasis on testing to evaluate our children.

Once we began talking, we realized most of our issues were very similar and not unique. So we opened the conversation up to our friends, and then to the public. What we found is that there are so many people out there who feel like our children’s schools could be doing much better.

We are all aware that the public education system in the United States has been slowly, but surely shifting to a state that holds itself accountable mainly by way of test scores and data collection, but my question as a concerned parent is, when did we become OK with our children’s school taking away our their natural optimism towards learning?

We started Parents for Inspiring Education, or PIE, because we wanted to give a voice to our children, while not forgetting our teachers. There is pressure being put on both of them at the same time. The administrators might call some standardized testing a diagnostic tool, but teachers know that if kids are not “performing” it ultimately reflects their teaching. The weight of this pressure trickles down and effects the decisions being made for the daily activities. So much so that they don’t want to give them two recesses, in fear that their test scores will go down. Parents involved with PIE believe that recess is one of the few highlights left in our kid’s day. It gives them the mental break that so many are craving, and also a time to retool and connect with friends.

For us, recess is just a starting point. It is something we felt like we could concentrate our energies on and hopefully get something accomplished. This also felt very pertinent with the district adding 30 more minutes to the elementary school day.

The added length was intended to be for social studies and science, but PIE asks the question, “Couldn’t we be learning science outside, where it’s happening all around us?” There are so many opportunities to make the school day more inspiring for our kids.

Our main goals are:

1. To get our kids outside and moving around more. We support two recesses for all children in elementary school. We support utilizing contact hours — hours teachers are required to teach a certain subject and have contact with pupils — to incorporate teacher-led outdoor activities in the daily curriculum.

2. To fully adopt the “Responsive Classroom” model in classrooms across the district. Responsive Classroom is a research- and evidence-based approach to education that supports greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement, and improved school climate (see This approach develops a positive community within the classroom that encourages children to see themselves as participants with shared responsibilities. This would be for staff members as well, anyone interacting with students.

3. To create more time and space for project-based learning that fosters creative and critical thinking in a nurturing environment. We envision a curriculum that does not restrict teachers, and instead gives them the freedom and the flexibility to challenge our children with project-based learning that engages and inspires.

4. To address the amount of testing, and the testing environment in our schools. We feel there is too much standardized testing as the primary means of assessing our children’s progress. We support the use of alternative assessments created by the teacher. We understand that a certain amount of standardized testing will go on, so in those instances let’s make the day around it more relaxing, with more opportunities for our kids to connect and have creative outlets.

What we hope to achieve with this group is a partnership with the school in working towards these goals. We want the lines of communication opened. We could have the best elementary school in the country, and we need to be forward thinkers and work together in order to get there. We as a nation open our door to millions of different types of people; it seems we should embrace and utilize what makes our children individuals.

We are not a nation of cookie-cutter children. We all learn differently and see the world through different lenses.

We need to give our kids multiple tools, so they too can learn to navigate the world in a way that is unique, but resourceful. There is never only one way to tackle a problem, so maybe if we could be open to the possibilities that there are better ways out there, then we could slowly start shifting back to a place of logic, and have a real conversation about it. We want our voices to be heard, not just acknowledged.

Kate Post lives in Peterborough. For more on this topic or to sign the petition for more recess, see


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