Here is the situation. Governor Beshear just cut the budget to education by $20million. Where was the outrage? This cut impacts all our students in Jeff Co. not just at public schools. It is time to take a stand and reform education in this country, and we will need funding to make it happen. I know that some will say make due with what you are given, but sadly our children aren't being given very much.
I have recently attended several community events where all agree that it is going to be a community effort to enact change (you know, back to the "it takes a village" theory of child care). So here is my question. If we have known for a long time that community connectivity is a key to educating and raising youth today to become respectful, responsible and educated citizens, why is it that we are failing in this regard? Why must we keep speaking out about these issues? I would rather not attend biweekly board of education meetings. I would rather not have to keep the Clothing Assistance Program in place or help with a Dare to Care food drive. In a perfect world I wouldn't have to write letters to the editor, write a blog, attend meetings and advocate vocally for what should be a given: the education of our children. But sadly, we have to keep speaking out. We have to be aware that cutting funding to early childhood education will impact education later on. That allowing a student at 16 years of age to drop out of school will impact the economy later on. As Bob Wise, former gov. of West Virginia and the President of the Alliance for Excellent Education, pointed out at a Dec. 7th luncheon, that by reducing the drop out rate by just 50% would result in increased wages and potential home ownership, and by funding programs in the amount of $5million would pay out in the amount of $45million because of the increase in students who would graduate and go on to post secondary education. But how do we get our kids engaged in education if there are a lack of textbooks? How do we get our families engaged in education if there are a lack of adequate facilities for our students, where some schools have access to state of the art technology while others utilize out dated equipment? How do we get our kids to want to pursue education when we are a culture that places more social and economic worth on entertainment and athletics than science and academics. It is time to be that village and to collaborate rather than compete with one another as organizations that promote the wellbeing of children and youth and to stand together and focus our conversation.
Every child deserves a quality education. That is the goal of the Urban League, the goal of Wired 65 and Hire Education Reform (Hire Income Requires Education), Kentucky Youth Advocates and their 2010 Blueprint for KY Children Agenda (including school based health initiatives and increasing the drop out rate to 18), the National School Boards Association (NSBA) which asks for a reauthorization of the ESEA act to address the flaws in NCLB, The Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA) which asks to improve school facilities and supports funding for all day kindergarten programs, the Prichard Committee, the YMCA and, of course, the PTA, which asks for comprehensive arts programs in our schools as well as better physical education/recess/health in all our schools, especially middle school where physical fitness programs and education are lacking.
I know that parents are frustrated, but your message will not inact change if it stays on a blog or chat room. If you only have half the information, then you can only form half an opinion. Are some of the programs enacted here in Jefferson Co. Public Schools by the BOE and administration still working thru a few bumps? Yes, but does that mean the entire JCPS system is broken? No. Should all of us, parents included, be held accountable? Absolutely. But I believe that a crucial conversation should take place. And we need to have that conversation while the Race for the Top is occurring. While enrollment is taking place. While we are aware that we are at a critical juncture in education. Do I have all the answers? No. But I am willing to listen. I am willing to go back to school and be educated on all aspects of the issues. I am excited about the opportunities that the magnet schools here in Louisville offer, but understand a parent's hesistation. Certainly my child may not go on to be an environmentalist as a future career, but what harm does a greater respect for the planet do a child? I agree that core curriculum must be in place for a child to succeed, and not every child knows at an early age what they wish to study. But there are children who show a natural inclination towards music, towards languages, and we are fortunate to have those programs in place. As a parent whose son attends a magnet school, it is my job to ensure that the academics are top notch as well as the arts and gifted/talent opportunities.
As for students who cannot read in middle school, that means that there is a flaw somewhere in the elementary school curriculum that must be addressed. That Every1reads tutors need parental reinforcement at home. If a child has a book in school but not by their bedside, then all the lessons at school will be lost in the shuffle of daily life. But how can we address the problem if no one speaks up about it? How can it be addressed if there is no funding for early childhood education? How can it be addressed in an economy where parents who used to have free time to volunteer now have to work extra hours just to make ends meet? How can it be addressed when school libraries lack the funding to purchase new books and rely on PTA bookfairs to supplement their shelves?
It is time to be advocates for our children.
Many of our parents accept the status quo. We can no longer believe that average is acceptable in an ever changing global economy. The world is not flat, it is connected by the internet, by call centers, by technology, by the ability to read, by the ability to write, by the ability to communicate thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams. Many of our children are now being parented by grandparents who are lost in the system without the proper tools to navigate the ever changing educational map. They need a guide. My children, part of the this generation of students, must be prepared for not just a national economy but a global one, where new jobs will be created before the educational programs are in place to prepare for them. We must say it is time to educate our children respectfully and fully prepare them for the future. Our sadly, we will be left behind.