Three Bozos in China


Three Bozos in China: Where’s the Parenting?


James L. Casale, Ph.D.

Actually, I would be insulting Bozo the clown by calling the three shoplifting UCLA basketball players, Bozos. Clowns are always trying to act funny or foolish as a means of entertainment. They aren’t criminals.

There is nothing entertaining about the actions of these three embarrassments to their country, their university, their team, their coach, their league (PAC 12) and of course, their parents.

They deserve the ridicule they are receiving for demonstrating to the world that they have learned nothing about virtue and are being judged on the “content of their character.” They are now part of those other pillars of the amateur sports society, the Olympic swimmers arrested in Brazil in 2016.

In this incident, the light shines brightly on the role of their parents and their upbringing. Mr. Ball, the father of one of the shoplifting culprits, LiAngelo Ball, has become a mini-celebrity for guiding his son, Lonzo, to the NBA. He is even asked for autographs by the ignoramuses that think basketball is important. Mr. Ball may have a talent for coaching but,

based on his recent public comments, it appears that he is limited to basketball and knows nothing about effective parenting.


The lesson here, especially for parents, is as clear Gabrielle’s horn. The smallest school in America is the family. That’s where real life lessons-character, morals, virtue- are taught. While there are no guarantees, parents are required to be their child’s first teachers and role models. But unfortunately, as Bill Bennett reminds us, “Parents are their child’s first teachers for better or worse.”

Dr. Casale is a state and national award-winning educator and the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and guide your child to succeed in school and life. It is available at bookstores and online. His second parenting book, “Family Pledge; Raising life-long learners and good citizens” has also received five-star reviews. He is available as a speaker.

Website – www.jamescasalephd.com

Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Who Is Ron Schaich and What Does He know About Parenting?


Who Is Ron Schaich and What Does He Know About Parenting?


James L. Casale, Ph.D.

I never heard of Ron Schaich and I’m betting that you haven’t either. Since I’m a foodie, a self-taught cook, and the author of a family cookbook, a newspaper article about a pioneer in the “fast casual’ world of dining attracted my attention. His extraordinary story as a successful entrepreneur reveals a few notable lessons that can be applied to effective parenting.

What is working and what is not working?

The former CEO of the Panera Bread Company started his food service career by opening a 400 square foot cookie store in Boston in the early 80s. But no one was buying cookies in the morning. He hooked up with a small pastry chain called Au Bon Pain and his business picked up significantly in the AM.

Every parent wants to be successful but not every parent, on a regular basis, assesses their effectiveness. Ron’s company grew exponentially. Your family may grow beyond one child. As parents are you ready and willing to adjust to be more successful? Ron had a business plan. Do you have a family plan? If not, create one before your first child is born.

Why was Ron so successful?

Ron eventually acquired Au Bon Pain, took it public, and bought the St. Louis Bread Company which became Panera Bread. He recently sold Panera Bread for 7.5 billion. He owned 6% of the company and netted about 400 million for himself. But he wasn’t always successful.

Panera was fraught with many problems: long lines, long wait times, and frustrated customers. He left the company for several years but came back to lead the company again with a plan to restructure it with about 100 million investment in technology.

There’s that word plan again. But a plan must be accompanied by strategies. Parents who want to raise life-long learners and good citizens in a family culture that emphasizes education, morals, and virtue must own a set of strategies that work. Parents are not in the food business. They are in the child-rearing business. The strategies they must own and incorporate are not rocket science or brain surgery. No special skills are required. What is required to execute your plan are: accurate information, love, commitment, courage, and stamina.

The information is within easy reach via books and professional advice from those you trust.

Do parents ever take the time to reflect?

Despite his windfall, Ron is still working today. He treasures his time with his wife and two teenage children. At the end of the newspaper article, he laments the death of his parents who were suffering from chronic diseases. He feels strongly that the time to reflect on your life and what you have done or not done …”is not in the ninth inning, on your deathbed. It’s while you are going through life.”

The best and most successful teachers and parents are the ones who always think they could do better. They are always self-assessing and reflecting on what they have done. They will try new things and take risks to perform better. What could possibly be more important than raising your children to be literate and upstanding citizens? Based on your plan and strategies, regularly ask yourself this simple question. How am I doing?

Note: The source for this article written by Alexandra Wolfe appeared in Weekend Confidential of the Wall Street Journal. (7/29-30/17)

Dr. Casale is both a state and national award-winning educator and the author of two parenting books: Wise Up and Be the Solution and Family Pledge His first book was acquired by Skyhorse Publishing and reissued in 2015. His second book, Family Pledge is expected to be available in September.


He is available as a speaker. Contact him at jamescasalephd77@gmail.com. Visit his website, www.jamescasalephd.com and receive a FREE copy of his eBook, Four Basic Back to School Priorities That Have Nothing to Do with Shopping. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Red-Shirting Kindergarteners


Red- Shirting Kindergarteners


James L. Casale, Ph.D.

If you are a sports fan, you may be familiar with the term, “redshirting”. In college football, it represents the practice of keeping an athlete out of the competition for a year in order to further develop the athlete’s skills and extend his eligibility period.

When I was an elementary principal, I often conferred with parents who wanted to delay, for one year, sending their eligible kindergartener to school. With few exceptions, I usually agreed that it would be to the child’s advantage to become one year older before entering kindergarten.

What are the advantages?

Redshirting has particular advantages for a kindergartener. It usually contributes to the maturation process both academically and socially. This practice has been fortified by school districts on a national scale that changed their kindergarten eligibility dates from turning five years old before December first to turning five years old before September first. According to research, the distinct advantages are:

Being older translates to better performance in school socially and academically.
Reduces the possibility of being retained.
Increases the odds of graduating from college
According to Chris Karbownik, an economist at Northwestern University, “It does seem to be the case that the effects of redshirting persist, at least, into young adulthood and manifest outcomes that are relevant for the labor market.”( I think that means getting a decent job)

To do or not to do; that is the question

It seems clear-cut, a piece of cake, or no biggie but, it isn’t. To redshirt or not to redshirt still requires thoughtful consideration. First, no one knows their child as well as parents do. But sometimes parents lose their objectivity about their child’s skills, especially social and emotional skills. “My child can read the Wall Street Journal” claims one mother. Excellent, but can she sit still long enough to complete a task? Can she follow directions? And does she get along with others?

If you are considering redshirting, talk to education professionals you trust and read Chapter 7 in my latest parenting book, Family Pledge: Raising Life-long Learners and Good Citizens.

Dr. Casale is a state and national award-winning educator and the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, “Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and guide your child to succeed in school and life.” It is available at bookstores and online. His second parenting book, “Family Pledge; Raising life-long learners and good citizens”, will be available soon.

He is available as a speaker.

Website – www.jamescasalephd.com.

Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Dumb Nick (1920-2017)


Dumb Nick (1920-2017)


James L. Casale

As a child, he was initially considered a slow learner. Relatives dubbed him “dumb Nick.”  The nickname was retired when, at age four, he defeated his uncle at a game of checkers.

Who reads obituaries?

I do. I especially like to read about successful and accomplished people from all walks of life. I usually find these fascinating stories in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. Dumb Nick turned out to be Dr. Nicholas Bloembergen, one of three scientists who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1981 for physics.

He came to America after World War II from his ravaged homeland in the Netherlands. He said he survived the war by eating boiled tulips but, they tasted awful.  He applied to three prestigious universities. Only Harvard accepted him. He became a professor and researcher.

His work with lasers was used on me

That’s right. I’ve had two surgeries that required the use of a laser. He was the scientist who devised a more practical way to use lasers for surgical procedures. He also figured out how to use lasers for computer storage and printing. These accomplishments are more than noteworthy since their applications are world-wide.

Don’t rush to label your child

Children are not people to be molded but rather-as flowers- to be unfolded. Avoid terms such as gifted, disabled, slow, bright, impaired etc. Parents must allow their children to unfold in a home that is committed to raising life-long learners and men and women of character. They may not turn out to be Nobel Prize winners but our schools, communities, and our country needs them anyway.

Dr. Casale is both a state and national award-winning educator and the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and guide your child to succeed in school and life. It is available at bookstores and online.

His second parenting book, “Family Pledge; How to raise life-long learners and good citizens”, will be available soon.

He is available as a speaker.

Website – www.jamescasalephd.com.

Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Book Review: “Family Pledge”

I noticed an uptick in sales when I contracted with the Redheaded Book Lover to review my book. If you love books as I do, you may be interested in viewing redheadedbooklover.com. The review follows:


PARENTS: In Dr. Casale’s second book of a planned trilogy on parenting strategies, he continues to inspire, encourage, and inform, parents to accept their solemn responsibility as their child’s first and most important teachers and role models. And how to establish a culture of learning in their homes. No special skills are required.
The format, consisting of 40 individual essays, allows the reader to choose any essays of interest, read them in any order, and add common sense parenting strategies to their repertoire. “Is It the Gorilla’s Fault the Kid Fell into the Zoo Enclosure? “focuses on parent negligence. “Pediatricians Say Limit Electronics” will guide the reader to establish clear house rules that all must abide by. “How to Say NO and Meant It” is my eyewitness account of a Westerly, RI mom in line at a local Walmart.
Enjoy, and have fun while improving your parenting skills.

Family Pledge is a parenting and education book that will provide parents with the tools to help their children (or child) to become the best they can be. Family Pledge is a book I desperately wanted to read upon discovering it, after all, I am a mother of four myself, so I love to read parenting books, especially when they are written by talented professionals! Family Pledge is an outstanding book written by an author with a fresh and exciting perspective on parenting strategies and the strategies James L. Casale so perfectly laces throughout his book, will aid and help parents to create a positive learning environment at home and to even better your relationship with your children’s school and teachers. Yes book lovers, Family Pledge explores many topics which focus on the home and within the family unit, as well as outside of it and outside influences with a strong focus on the education system and the flaws that currently exist. If you are a parent who wants to better your children’s learning as well as practice parenting strategies that will help your children at home, then Family Pledge is a book I recommend. Although if you are not entirely convinced yet then continue to read to learn more.

Family Pledge is a unique book thanks to the topic it explores and how they are explored. Within the pages of Family Pledge, there are forty essays (all individual) written by the talented and well-accomplished author James L. Casale. Casale throughout Family Pledge will inspire, inform and encourage the reader to help improve their children’s lives and to become the best role models for their children. Casale explains that although teachers can play a role in shaping a child and their education, the majority of children look up to their parents as a role model.  That is why it is so important to make sure that the parent is the best role model they can be and can help their children as much as they can.

Throughout the book, the reader will be taken on a journey throughout the forty essays, and each easy is individual therefore it can be read in any order you wish. Each topic explored in each essay is also fascinating, and two of the most prominent ones are ones that focuses on house rules and how to abide by them and parental negligence. These are just two of the many topics explored throughout Family Pledge, and the other thirty-eight essays are equally exceptional as well as informative, and this is all thanks to Casale and his wonderful wisdom and ability to inform his reader.

There is much I loved about Family Pledge; however, I have to admit what I loved the most was Casale’s wisdom on all topics, not just that of parenting. In fact, Casale explores more than just parenting and explores issues within the education and school system and how it is affecting your child. I particularly loved these moments in Family Pledge because I am a parent that loves to be informed of everything which could affect my children. Therefore to learn of current issues and how they can be addressed was stellar and I really appreciate Casale for sharing this in Family Pledge.

James L. Casale is an author with a fresh perspective and it is about time book lovers that a parent can read a book that is refreshing as well as honest and not pushy! Sadly many parenting books are pushy and make the parent feel as if they are doing a bad job but that is not the case with Family Pledge. Casale instead of being a pushy writer is an informative one that perfectly guides and informs readers and provides them with the tools to better their children’s education and the parents teaching strategies. Never once is Casale pushy and that is a quality I love about Family Pledge.

Another quality I love about Family Pledge was the fact that the book is so easy to read! Many parenting strategies books can have text that is too complicated but Casale is a writer who writes to inform his readers easily. He understands that parents do not have all the time in a world so an easy to read but informative book that is easily organized is key for a parent and I can happily write that Casale accomplished all of this!

Overall Family Pledge is an incredible novel from an author with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom whose words will transfix and make you re-think your parenting strategies and so I am going to award this stellar book five stars! Please do have a read of the preview below book lovers, you will not regret it.


Why Are Asian and Indian Students So Smart?



Why Are Asian and Indian Students So Smart?


James L. Casale, Ph.D.

Are Indian and Asian students smarter than their American counterparts? Why do they seem to always excel in school? This year’s Scripps’s National Spelling Bee seemed to be dominated by students from the India region.

I had a chance encounter with a local high school student who was also volunteering her time at the VA Hospital in West Palm Beach. We met in the elevator when we were headed to the same place for the same reason; the volunteer office to sign in for the day. I seized the opportunity to talk to her about her school.

I asked her which school she attended and whether she liked it. The young lady responded with a curious answer, “My school is highly rated in the state of Florida”. “But do you like it”, I probed. She said she liked the school. I followed up by asking what she liked about it. “I like the environment,” she said.

What do you really mean?

I pressed on and asked her what did that mean, “Does it mean you loved all your teachers? “(I already knew the answer) “No,” she replied emphatically. “Some are lousy and some are just awful,” she offered.  Then I revealed who I was and shared my background as a former teacher, principal, district administrator, college professor and freelance writer. I shared with her what most educators know but don’t always talk about: there are not and never will be enough highly effective teachers to staff our public schools.  (The reasons for this dilemma are included in my first parenting guide, Wise Up and Be the Solution and my upcoming book, Family Pledge: Raising Life Long Learners and Good Citizens.)

I opined that school rankings in Florida are a joke. Schools rated with an “A” do not serve all their students sufficiently and schools rated with a “C” or “D” have their share of high-performing students. You are not smart because you attend a high ranking school and you are not stupid if you attend a low-performing school. What’s the difference maker when kids are successful?

It’s a cultural thing

Asian and Indian families emphasize education. They have a cultural advantage. Education is important. Doing well in school is expected along with the sacrifices and discipline it requires to excel. It’s in their playbook.

For example, South Korean parents are obsessed with education and don’t mind paying up. South Korean 15- year-olds rank second in the world in reading. South Korea has a 93% high school graduation rate compared to 77% for the U.S. It is reported that when President Obama asked the South Korean president what his biggest problem was regarding the education system, the South Korean President responded,” the parents are too demanding.”   South Korean parents spent more than 17 billion on tutoring services; American parents spent 15 billion on video games.

 American families

There are many American families who feel as their Asian and Indian contemporaries do. Education is important. It’s emphasized at home. And these families “walk the walk”. But my experiences and observations-50 years’ worth- reveal that this is not a consistent theme and it is not culturally ingrained.

Too many parents rely on the school to teach and discipline their children. Here’s the rub; the schools are not equipped to do what must be done at home. School teachers and staff, no matter how competent or incompetent are not a child’s first teacher and role model. They are not responsible for teaching your children to become life-long learners, good citizens, and men and women of character.

The quality of the family is the determiner of school and life success. A family that has a vision, high expectations for all members, accurate information, and a plan to carry out their vision will make the most difference in a child’s life.

Dr. Casale is a state and national award-winning educator and the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and guide your child to succeed in school and life. It is available at bookstores and online. His second parenting book, “Family Pledge; How to raise life-long learners and good citizens”, will be available soon.

He is available as a speaker.

Website – www.jamescasalephd.com.

Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Are Gift-Giving Parents Out of Control?


Are Gift-Giving Parents Out of Control?


All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth and a Ferrari


James L. Casale, Ph.D.

If giving is better than receiving when is giving inappropriate? This is the giving season. Shall we rain all manner of gifts upon our children, or is this time of year a teaching moment that will last throughout this season and beyond. Gifts, gifts, and more gifts result in more, more, and more clutter and, worse, lessons lost on the recipients. No, you cannot have a Ferrari. You have to wait until you are 16.

Unfortunately for the recipients, gifts may flow throughout the year as prizes or rewards that are not deserved. You givers know who you are. Taking out the garbage, making your bed, brushing your teeth, getting good grades, being nice to your sister, or setting the table are NOT occasions that deserve gifts. Enough already! There are special events each year that warrant gift giving, but moderation is the watchword even if you can afford the Ferrari.

Just because your ninth-grader wants a $400 Gucci belt doesn’t mean he gets it. The latest iPhone? Forget it, pal. And I can’t believe what my grandson wanted for Christmas. Actually, I never heard of it, but it’s the rage at his high school in Connecticut, and kids are paying big bucks for it. It’s a shirt called, Supreme. Kids will pay several hundred dollars for the privilege to wear a shirt that doesn’t even have Mickey Mantle‘s name on the back. And according to my grandson, prices can go as high as a thousand dollars. OMG


Even if you can afford elaborate gifts, don’t do it. If begging persists, my standard answers would be the following:

Use the money you have saved.
Wait until you have saved enough.
Maybe when you graduate from college.
Yeah, right. Not this year.
Ask your grandmother.
Do you need more Legos? You have enough to open your own Legoland. How about some Lincoln Logs?

Lessons learned

Here’s a lesson on giving. Depending on their age, buy your children a few gifts each that are earmarked for a child or a family in need. Then, with your children accompanying you, deliver the gifts to the family or the organization that will distribute them. No, you cannot sit on my lap while I drive. For example, Toys for Tots, sponsored by the United States Marine Corps, will welcome your contributions, as will the local homeless center. If your children are old enough to have their own money, allow them the freedom to purchase gifts and decide on the needy recipients. Remember, they are not the needy. If they are, ignore this paragraph.

Many houses of worship have ministries that reach out to the local community to serve the less fortunate. Giving is not limited to tangible gifts but also includes giving the gift of your time to local organizations that serve the community. Time is the same as money.

Get rid of clutter and feel good about it

Do you have a garage or attic full of “stuff” that you or your kids are not using? Don’t wait until that gift-giving time of year to get rid of it. As a family, gather it up, pack the car, and drive to the appropriate donation centers. Now, doesn’t that feel good? And the neighbors will stop talking about you.

A recent article in the New York Post caught my eye. “Present Tense” by Naomi Schaefer Riley references the bestselling author Marie Kondo, who wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Ms. Kondo emphasizes a “minimalist” lifestyle. That sounds like a good idea, but my emphasis is less about clutter and more about establishing a culture in each home that practices the three K’s: Karing, Kompassion, and Kindness. Mark it down but spell it correctly.

Ancient times

During my childhood in ancient times, I didn’t expect much, my parents couldn’t afford much, and I didn’t receive much when it came to gift-giving season or, for that matter, throughout the year. All I ever wanted to survive in my neighborhood were four things that would make me the happiest kid on the block: a bike, a baseball glove, a baseball, and a pink Spalding. We used that pink rubber ball to play stoop ball and stickball.

As a parent and grandparent, I followed suit and never lavished expensive gifts on my children and grandchildren. I usually gave books, money, and good advice about the importance of reading and making your own choices.

Yeah, but it’s 2017

This “me first” generation salivates for the latest electronic goodies, motorized toys, designer clothes, and, God help us, video games. Don’t give in: give out instead to those in your community who need food, clothes, books, a bike, and maybe a baseball glove.

Website: jamescasalephd.com

Comments are welcome at jamescasalephd77@gmail.com


Tough Love Revisited

Tough Love Revisited


James L. Casale, Ph.D.

I’m a big fan of Peggy Noonan. She is a syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal. I don’t always agree with her, but I respect her opinions, and I pay attention to her views. She is a lifelong learner as this essay will prove.

The mention of “tough love” conjures up the notion of how we, as parents, are expected to raise our children successfully by not giving in to their every wish and desire and allowing them to figure out stuff for themselves. It also means that when our kids screw up, we should allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions.

Her latest column, which I read in the New York Post (1/27/18), was titled “Tough Love” and focused on the views of Jordan Peterson, former associate professor of psychology at Harvard and a full professor at the University of Toronto, who dares to challenge the left-wing orthodoxy that society is to blame for our personal woes and prefers to champion self-improvement. He proposes that “we should be more critical of ourselves rather than society.”

Since I recently completed my second eBook, Family Manifesto: Words to Live By, which is filled with “growing up” quotes and other words of wisdom, I was inspired and excited to read  Noonan’s editorial on professor Peterson’s views regarding self-improvement.

Peterson’s tough-love school: “Know life’s limits, see and analyze your own, build on what you’ve got and can create.” He states emphatically, “Be brave. Everything else is boring and won’t work.”

He respects the great thinkers of the West and the Christian tradition. In his book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, readers can expect to find the following gems:

Pay attention to the Old Testament. These stories have lasted for a reason.
Grasping at a political ideology is not the answer when your life goes wrong.
Don’t blame capitalism, the radical left, or the iniquity of your enemies.
Don’t reorganize the state until you have ordered your own experience. (AKA—If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.)
Have humility.
If you can’t bring peace to your household, how dare you try to rule a city?
Don’t be arrogant. “Become aware of your own insufficiency.”
Support yourself with people who support your upward aim.


There is more, much more, but as the lifelong learner Peggy Noonan did, I think I’ll buy the book too. This sounds like a book I want in my library. We are all capable of so much more if we will open our minds to the possibilities of self-improvement. Books, magazines, newspapers, courses, and more offer us endless opportunities to raise our children to be lifelong learners, good citizens, and men and women of character. While we are doing that, we will improve too.

Dr. Casale is a state and national award-winning educator and the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to Create a Culture of Learning at Home and Guide Your Child to Succeed in School and Life. It is available at bookstores and online.

His second parenting book, Family Pledge; Raising Lifelong Learners and Good Citizens, has received five-star reviews on Amazon and is also available at bookstores and digitally.

He is available as a speaker.

Website: www.jamescasalephd.com

Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Homeschoolers: Chief Cooks and Bottle Washers


Homeschoolers: “Chief Cooks and Bottle Washers”


James L. Casale, Ph.D.

Over the past several weeks, on separate occasions, I have had the pleasurable experience of interviewing two moms on my radio show, Common Sense Parenting on w4wn.com. One mom lives in Florida; the other in Colorado.

As a former classroom teacher and school administrator, I have always been interested in the logistics and processes of this endeavor. It appears to require an enormous amount of effort, determination, patience, persistence, enthusiasm, knowledge, skill, courage, and resourcefulness. Add vision and purpose to the mix, and the result is leadership personified.

What did I want to know?

Before the interviews, I hastily made a list of questions about homeschooling that I had been carrying about in my head for years. After all, as a school principal, I hired, mentored, and evaluated teachers for many years. And keeping in mind how difficult effective teaching is and how much work and skill and knowledge it requires; I couldn’t imagine how homeschooling parents did this successfully.

My questions focused on the obvious: Why did you decide to homeschool your children? When did you decide to tackle this job? How many children are you teaching and how old are they? Where do you obtain your curriculum and your materials? You are not a licensed teacher, so who mentors you? How do you measure the progress you are or are not making? Do you have house rules during school time? What are your frustrations? How do your children socialize with other children their age? Are there clubs and sports your children can participate in? Do you have to register with the public school?

I didn’t get all the answers, but…

There was not sufficient time during the radio show to obtain all the answers to my questions. I invited both moms back to continue the discussion at a later date. The Colorado mom had six kids ranging from elementary school to high school. They had attended public school before she decided to homeschool them. The Florida mom had two children, ages six and seven, who had never attended school.

Both moms were extremely enthusiastic about their choice to homeschool. They loved spending quality time with their children. They were fully supported by a homeschooling network and system that included local and state organizations. While their circumstances were slightly different, they never looked back or doubted themselves. Of course, their spouses were also part of the equation. This is a critical component of any household that has high expectations for the entire family.

Leadership at a high level

It occurred to me during one of my conversations that these moms were the “chief cooks and bottle washers” of their organization, which can be described best in John Gardner’s words: “The smallest school in America is the family.” We had quite a laugh about it when I realized and shared with one of the moms that, in addition to being the teacher, she also served as the principal, custodian, cafeteria worker, counselor, bus driver, activities director, media specialist, and teacher’s aide. Multitasking these responsibilities demands leadership. These moms (I’m sure dads are doing this too), to be successful, must be prepared, organized, decisive, communicative, knowledgeable, resourceful, energetic, disciplined, enthusiastic, and devoted to a goal and a mission that surpasses their own self-interest. I realize that these two situations are anecdotal, but so far so good.

Dr. Casale is both a state and national award-winning educator and the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and Be the Solution: How to Create a Culture of Learning at Home and Guide Your Child to Succeed in School and Life. His second parenting book, Family Pledge: Raising Lifelong Learners and Good Citizens, has also received rave reviews. Both books are available on his website, jamescasalephd.com, in bookstores, and online in print and eBook versions.


Was the Parkland Massacre Preventable?

In recent weeks, I visited two Palm Beach County high schools to drop off scholarship applications courtesy of the Sons of Italy Lodge in Tequesta, FL. At one campus, I was able to walk directly into the front office to state my business. At the other campus, I was met by a huge chain link fence and a security person before I was admitted to the office. I think that if I were a troubled student (known fact) who was recently expelled and carrying a backpack and a duffle bag, I would not have made it to the inside of the chain-link at campus number two. How did this murderer receive access to the campus at Douglas High school?

First Things First

The number one priority of any school district and individual school is the safety and security of students and staff. As a former school administrator, I had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) when it came to school safety and security. From daily lockdowns and an efficient buzzer system to faulty and dangerous playground equipment and cafeteria spills, I was ever vigilant and my staff and parents knew it. It was contagious. Everybody became more aware of anything in the school or on campus that would in any way be potentially harmful.

What Can Be Done Before First Responders Arrive?

Our first responders don’t arrive until they are notified. Sometimes they arrive during the commission of the heinous act or after the act is committed. God Bless them and their families. The front lines in these cases are manned by school officials, teachers, and parents. Yes, parents must be part of the equation.

Parents send their kids to school with the assumption that they will be secure and safe. Parents put too much trust in school officials including school board members. School safety and security protocols must include input from parents who can and should participate in the establishment of district and school policy.

How Can Parents Get Involved?

First, become informed. Insist on the publication and distribution of a school district manual outlining the district and each school’s policies and protocols that protect your children from harm’s way. This includes everything from playground and bus safety to bullying, cyberbullying, and unwanted intruders.

Second, serve on district and school safety committees that meet each month to gather information and evaluate the effectiveness of these policies. Conduct staff and parent meetings on this topic.

Third, research the policies of other school districts locally and nationally. Utilize the information if it improves your situation. There are enormous amounts of free information available from organizations such as The National Crime Council, U.S. Department of Education, and the Center for Safe Schools to name a few.

Fourth, always include input from your community’s first responders who should be represented on your committee.


There is no issue as important as the safety, security, and health of your child. Do your homework, gather information, get involved and don’t rely solely on the school district or school. Some valuable lessons were learned from Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.  Find out what they were. While evil cannot always be deterred, we can always be vigilant.

James L. Casale is a former Florida Teacher of the Year and a National School of Excellence principal.
He is the author of two parenting books. He is available as a speaker.