Families & the Community

Education ‘House Party’ Opens Mother’s Eyes

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — October 01, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Harvey Howard arrived at New Grassy Creek Baptist Church in time to sample the spread of chicken wings and brown beans, cake and punch. The retired teacher was on his way to a board meeting at the Oxford Fire Department, but wanted to weigh in at his local National Mobilization for Great Public Schools gathering on the issue he’d been passionate about through 35 years in the classroom, and the 11 years since.

Three of his children also became educators, although one eventually abandoned the field, and three of his grandchildren attend Granville County, N.C., public schools.

See Also

Return to the main story,

“I see a grave need for more support for our teachers,” Mr. Howard said. “We need to make schools more teacher-friendly. … I stayed for 35 years, but teachers can’t last that long anymore.”

Mr. Howard lamented that with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, too much authority over the schools has been delegated to Washington, and for North Carolinians, their state capital in Raleigh, leaving many teachers to feel powerless.

Issues of discipline and family problems, coupled with inadequate salaries, aging school facilities, and a shortage of supplies, have beaten down many dedicated educators, he added.

North Carolina officials have been trying to stem a teacher shortage over the past several years with higher salaries and bonuses based on test-score gains. They’ve also conducted a statewide survey of working conditions to see what improvements are needed.

Even so, the state is projecting it will have to hire 10,000 new teachers a year through the end of the decade. In some districts, turnover is as high as 28 percent a year.

Lavetta Smith, a single mother who brought her three children to the “house party” at the church here last week, said the strain on teachers is evident.

“They are tired and burnt out” from teaching large numbers of children and dealing with all the regulations and tests, she said. “As a result, children are not getting the instruction time and the attention they need.”

Ms. Smith, who is studying to be a registered nurse, said the meeting convinced her that she needs to figure out for herself which candidates for local and national office will address her concerns about education.

“I’m glad I came to hear about the issues at hand,” she said. “It opened my eyes.”


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by Learning.com

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community Vaccine Rates Remain Down, Exemptions Are Up. What It Means for Schools
New federal data show that vaccine rates among schoolchildren have not rebounded since the pandemic.
    4 min read
    A student applies a bandage after receiving a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from a nurse, at a vaccination station in Jackson, Miss., Feb. 16, 2022.
    A Jackson, Miss. student receives a bandage on the arm after receiving a children's dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from a nurse, at a vaccination station in the city, Feb. 16, 2022.
    Rogelio V. Solis/AP
    Families & the Community New Research Finds a Crucial Factor in Reducing Chronic Absenteeism
    Just as strong connections with parents can boost students' academic achievement, new research shows the same is true in fighting absences.
    5 min read
    Illustration of happy school children running on a bridge handshake.
    Families & the Community The Biden Administration Is Investing More in Parent Engagement. Will It Be Enough?
    The U.S. Department of Education announced $11 million in grants to support parent and family engagement.
    4 min read
    Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington on Aug. 5, 2021.
    Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at the White House on Aug. 5, 2021. The U.S. Department of Education has announced a series of grants for organizations working on parent education and family engagement.
    Susan Walsh/AP
    Families & the Community District Leaders Are Walking a Fine Line on Cellphone Policies. What That Looks Like
    Administrators point to strategic ways to design student cellphone policies that parents won't oppose.
    5 min read
    Photo illustration of cell phone with red circle and slash.
    iStock / Getty Images Plus