Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Open Letter: Brenda Vosik

Public comments made at the Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting. Public discussion on the Memorandum of Understanding for the GOALS Initiative and the Superintendent’s Plan to Improve Attendance in Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

By: Brenda Vosik

My name is Brenda Vosik. I am the mother of two boys, the stepmother of two more boys, and the grandmother of one girl. I was and still am intimately involved with raising all five of these children, whose ages range from 27 years to 12 months. I even home educated two of them for four years. Does that make me an expert in education or in raising children? I think so, I’ve got a lot of experience under my belt.

I’ve certainly got enough experience to recognize that the unequivocal statement in the GOALS team’s Memorandum of Understanding, that “school attendance is the single most important element to the student’s ability to learn and be successful in school and life” is simply not true.

A child’s ability to learn does not stem from whether or not he is sitting at a desk for 7 hours a day. Much more important factors include a loving home, good discipline, supportive parents, sound moral character, and the enrichment that comes from a good healthy balance between academics and other worthwhile pursuits. Even details such as a good night’s sleep, a nourishing breakfast, a safe trip to school and freedom from bullying while AT school have more to do with a child’s ability to learn than perfect attendance does. All of you who have been asked to sign this Memorandum of Understanding have some experience in child and family law, so you know this is true.

I will give an example from my own family. I took my children at ages 6 and 10 to Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia, the area known as the cradle of the American Revolution. They didn’t sit at a school desk for two weeks. When we returned, an 8th grade friend of ours, a straight A student who HAD been sitting at her school desk for those two weeks, asked about our trip. When I mentioned that we’d visited Yorktown, she said, “Oh…I just took a test over Yorktown yesterday.” I asked her, “Oh really? What happened at Yorktown?” She stared at me blankly for a minute before saying, “I don’t remember, but I got an A on the test!” My 6-year-old then told her that Yorktown is where the British surrendered to George Washington in 1781, and the French Navy was there helping the colonists, and the British fifers played “The World Turned Upside Down” after they surrendered. How can it be that he knew what she didn’t, when she was the one that spent the previous two weeks sitting in a classroom?

So when I read the statement that the single most important thing to my son’s ability to learn is sitting at a school desk, I know for a fact it’s not true. With your collective experience, you also know it’s not true, and I ask that you think carefully before you sign a document saying you believe it is.

Brenda Vosik
Millard Public Schools
Omaha, NE

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