Last night I sat in the school gym listening to the four second-grade teachers describe the rules, teaching approaches and how the parents all need to be involved with furthering education at home. It was curriculum night at Rooney Ranch Elementary.

I spent the 45 minutes straining to read the slides lit up with fuchsia, red and yellow backgrounds. Impossible. Not readable at all. Also, not in our packet of materials.

After the session, I approached my daughter’s teacher, whom she has for a second year in a row. So, I know her already. I said that the slides were really difficult to read. She commented on the poor lighting in the gym. I responded that, well, actually, it has more to do with the use of saturated colors and not providing a strong contrast between the background and the text. She said, “it looked so great on the computer.”

Usability is usability whether it’s in a PowerPoint presentation, a computer screen, or a web site. The human eye sees better with contrast, and saturated color interferes with that ability. I shared with her a tidbit about what the usability research says.

Upon returning home, my husband and I – he attended our sixth-grader’s curriculum meeting – shared notes. I told him about this exchange and he shook his head and rolled his eyes at me. What? I shouldn’t have said anything? I shouldn’t use my professional knowledge and training to help them improve their ability to communicate?

“They don’t care what you know,” he said. “They will all continue to do exactly what they want without regard to what is known to be best.” Not open to learning. Our teachers. Sad, but true. I’ve been offering for years to provide a free workshop for the school’s faculty on writing, particularly writing instructions for classroom assignments. No takers. Meantime, my kids struggle to interpret vague, passive and indirect language in assignments.

When the teacher tells me “you need to use this reading technique with her,” or “he needs to share his ideas in class.” Sure, we take that as important counsel, talk about it a lot and try to make it happen. We try to be very responsive to teacher suggestions and guidance. They know the education stuff. But, it’s all one way – no true collaboration here.

As a parent, there is much to be frustrated about with how the schools function these days. I have come to appreciate those who home school. We supplement with home school curriculum. Schools could be much like a corporation, a community of people with different expertise, training and knowledge collaborating to a singular goal. The school has the administrators, the professional educators, and the parents with all manner of unique expertise. Feedback from anywhere must be part of the collaboration mix. Why can’t we collaborate to that singular goal – smart, prepared, capable kids?