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Mom Blew It

• Patricia Levesque

Mom blew it.

That’s what I told my kids after our National Summit on Education Reform.

More than once, standing at the podium, I told the audience, “Good night.”

Unfortunately, it was the middle of the day. A mistake like that is magnified at an event in which people are listening to the eloquent words of Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Jeb Bush.

They never say “good night” to people eating lunch.

Making the best of it, I turned my gaffe into a lesson for my children.

At some point we all fail, I told them. Even mommies. That was news to them.

I told them that when we fail, at things big or small, we have to keep trying. I did just that, and by the end of the summit, by golly, I synchronized my internal clock with the correct time of day, and fixed my mistakes.

Failure is a part of all our lives, I told them. We can become better for it by learning from our mistakes and moving on.d

I saw a spark of understanding in their eyes.

There are so many things we need to work on as we strive to improve education. One we learned from Amanda Ripley, a journalist who wrote: The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way.

Speaking at the Summit, Amanda said we need to send the right signals to students about failure. We need to teach them at a young age that failure and struggle are OK, that it happens all the time, but that we can work hard to improve and earn success.

We wouldn’t have such a backlash against testing in our schools if parents and the public understood this concept.  It’s OK for kids to get low marks. That doesn’t mean they won’t succeed. They just need to work harder, and if they do, they can master anything.  Tests are not punishment. They are not judgmental. They are tools that lead to improvement and success.

On the flight home, I was reading the book 41, President George W. Bush’s memoir about his father.  In it there is a vignette about his dad coming home after losing a tennis match and telling his mother – Dorothy Walker Bush – that he’d been “off his game.”

She replied, “You don’t have a game. If you work harder, maybe you’ll get one.”

The future president learned a lesson about failure, hard work and earning success, and it served him well.

I think Amanda Ripley’s talk about education should be heard by all parents. And so I am including a link to it. Please share:

About the author

Patricia Levesque @levesquepat

Patricia is the Chief Executive Officer for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She served as Governor Jeb Bush’s deputy chief of staff for education, enterprise solutions for government, minority procurement, and business and professional regulation. Previously, Patricia served six years in the Florida Legislature in the Speakers Office and as staff director over education policy. Contact Patricia at