Take a tour of any public school and the first things that would be brought to your attention are the graphs and figures relating to the school’s performance on No Child Left Behind mandated state tests. You are likely to find student artwork, PTA related material, and other indicators scattered around the vestibule walls, giving subtle clues, among other things, to the culture and priorities of the school. Walking through that main entrance unannounced, being warmly greeted and well treated can be harbinger of the climate your child will likely face.
Times have changed. That rotary phone that gave your fingers the “run around” has been replaced by the iPhone and the likes. That landline that kept you tethered to the wall has given way to the cellular phone. Travel to Europe or Japan and you are likely to get a glimpse of our future in this increasingly technological world.
National Public Radio reported just yesterday that a new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project “finds that 75 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 now have cell phones, up from 45 percent in 2004. And the number who say they text-message daily has shot up to 54 percent from 38 percent in just the past 18 months.” Preferred modes of communication are a changing.
Your new school vestibule is more than likely your internet webpage. Your webpage speaks volumes about your even in the absence of your physical presence. Take a look at Montgomery Public Schools’ 2010 Best of the Web Award winners and you will see a definitive personality and culture reflected in each webpage.
Start by taking a look at when each of the school’s webpages was last updated. Just those dates have a tale to tell. Visit a few schools on the internet, and you will notice that some pages are refreshingly current while others are woefully out of date.
Remember that old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, it holds true for websites as well. You’ve got to “click” through those pages and digest the story they tell. Click on the “Departments” link and you have a sampling of the academics and priorities of the school. Did they post the current curriculum? Do they have resources for students? Does the Media Center, if they have one, seem current and vibrant? Are there reading clubs? Do children express themselves on the web through a newsletter, book reviews, and the likes?
Take a look at the staff directory for insight into the academic priorities of the school. Does a particular department or division have a noticeably larger number of staff members? Does the staffing disparity conform to what you know about the school? A large contingent of Special Educators could mean a school that has chosen to address the needs of a vulnerable population well, or one that it is experimenting with the paradigm of mainstreaming our Special Needs children.
So, take a walk in cyber space and find out how your child is doing. Congratulations to all the Montgomery Public Schools’ 2010 Best of the Web Award winners —don’t rest on your laurels.