Promote Yourself to Chief Education Officer

By Julia Fitzgerald

Sylvan's Thoughts
Chief Education Officer

I just made myself the CEO because the job wasn’t getting done, and I appeared to be the best candidate for the task. (My boss can relax because I am talking about the Chief Education Officer role for my family.) I am joining the thousands of other women who have recently taken on this position to make sure their kids are academically getting what they need.

I wasn’t really motivated by the low PISA scores, or the uproar about common core. For me, the issues were closer to heart and home. I realized that despite my school district’s high marks, my child didn’t really know how to effectively study. And despite her high grades in middle school, they really had not prepared her to succeed with rigorous honors and AP classes in high school.

I have to own up to a little laziness. I thought the schools were in charge of the kids’ academics. Once I fed them a good breakfast and got them on the bus on time, I figured I was done. However, that is far from the case.

My first foray into the Chief Education Officer role was when my middle school child was being funneled into a lower language-arts track. The schools are not overt about how these classes are named, so it takes an involved parent to be informed about the teachers and the tracks that go from middle school into high school. Once I realized she had been misplaced, it took a bulldog approach to get the situation fixed.

Now I pay closer attention and work with some of the teachers to understand what additional help is available at the school, and when I need to find additional third-party resources.

I am now very proactive about securing tutors, setting up time to talk about course content with my kids and planning realistic goals for college. For my daughter, the college exams may still seem far off. Nevertheless, I am signing her up for college prep classes so she will not have test anxiety during the important ACT. Even though I am the CEO, my teenage daughter is certain that I have no idea what I am talking about. This is one of those times where the chief can delegate the duty to someone she will listen to.

As CEO, I have a long-term plan and concerns that my kids can’t quite get just yet. I worry about their competitiveness in a global market. I want them to be critical thinkers and have multiple options open to them in the future. I want them to be prepared and know how to work hard. They just want to know when they can watch the next episode of Dr. Who. *sigh*

I am finding that taking an active role with my kids’ school and investing in additional academic resources is working well. They each have different interests and academic profiles, but in the end no one cares more about their ultimate educational success, so I am formally accepting this job of Chief Education Officer. Will you be promoting yourself to Chief Education Officer in 2014?


Learn more about Mom as Chief Education Officer in our infographic.