Sunday, June 19, 2011

We Are Failing Our children

We are of the opinion that there is nothing more important in our society than providing for our children.  Inherent in that responsibility is the basic need to provide our children with the best education possible; because it is through education that they will realize their potential, achieve their goals and become productive members of our society.  Studies have shown that children who receive a quality education are happier, more confident and more successful in their adult years.
So why is it that we continue to fall behind the rest of the world in providing our children with the education they need to compete on the world stage?
In their most recent worldwide study of 70 nations, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development rated the United States students “Average” in the areas of reading, science and math.  The US students rank 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in mathematics; far below the top ranked countries of South Korea, Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Canada.
“We have to get serious about investing in education” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan after hearing the study’s results.
So what are we doing about it?
Republicans in the House are demanding drastic cuts in education as part of their austerity program.  Many Republicans would like to do away with the department of education in its entirety.  They believe that education is best handled at the state level.
So what are the states doing to educate our children?  State legislatures rely on federal funding to keep their education programs afloat. Without federal funding many school systems will be forced to close.  Led by newly elected Republican Governors, many states are slashing education funding, closing schools, laying off teachers, reducing teacher’s benefits and eliminating teacher’s right to bargain collectively.  Teachers unions keep tenured staff members and layoff those with less seniority; in many cases removing young quality teachers while ineffective tenured educators keep their jobs. 
Adding insult to injury are the parents.  Many school districts around the country are bowing to parental pressure to reduce the amount of homework required of their students.  The New York Times reports that many school systems are implementing programs which limit homework to 10 minutes for each year of school.  A second grader is assigned  no more that 20 minutes of homework each school night; a sixth grader no more than one hour etc.. Students are not assigned homework on weekends, holidays and school vacations.  Their argument is that the increased competition for test scores and college admittance is stressing out the children and depriving them of play and rest while doing little to raise their achievement levels.
None of this makes any sense.
It has been said that the future of the country lies within our children; which is all the more reason why we should be doing everything in our power to ensure their success. 
Education in this country should be about the children…but it isn’t.  The children are but pawns in the game of politics.  Education in this country is about short sighted politicians, ineffective tenured teachers and parents too damn lazy to help their own children to succeed.
There is no excuse for the children in this the richest, most successful country in the world (at least for the moment) to get anything but the best education in the world. 
We are failing our kids…and there is no excuse…none.


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