- This blog first appeared on the DailyKos website
If one believes that the education of our children is a strategic national interest, then our decision makers might do well to value education and educators with sufficient monetary and societal affirmation to attract the brightest and the best to this calling. Equally important, because children lay down patterns, perceptions, and modes of behavior at an early age, many argue that the critical focus in education should be placed on the early childhood and elementary years. If students are shown how to learn, how to solve problems, how to work in groups, how to celebrate others’ gifts and achievements as well as their own, there is a good chance that they will maximize their opportunity to live a happier, more productive, and moral life. On the other hand, if they are warehoused in overcrowded classrooms with inadequate supplies, and managed by harried teachers with minimal administrative, technological, or community support and esteem, then school can quickly become an institution of rote memorization, whose fabric is held together by few red threads of comprehension, justification, or invention.
The State Legislature deserves the failing grade for their defunding of the public school system
I did well in school. My son did not. I learned in a conventional way. My son did not. I cost the school little time or effort. My son cost the system a lot. The success my son experienced was based on the affirmation and support of the “teachers” in his life. It is impossible to place a value on their gift to him. School was where he learned how to play and work with others, to solve academic challenges as well as playground disputes. He was never going to be the class valedictorian, but his teachers encouraged his interpersonal and leadership skills. He was never going to be a star football or basketball player, but he took great joy in helping others in the school community make the place better than he found it. Teachers encouraged his strengths and helped him develop ways to minimize has weaknesses. These are the kinds of academic and life skills that teachers can and should provide, but they can not practice their pedagogy without the support of the community, the board of education, and the legislature to provide them the means to be their best teaching selves. Teachers are our best hope outside the home to affirm the future citizens of our country and those same students will become the people who will continue to shape our communities and our society. In a larger context, the goal of teachers is to instill in students a belief in themselves, their individual worth, and how they can pursue their paths to a life well lived. A teacher can help make that path to success seem less steep and daunting.
“We need more than breadcrumbs to fund our children’s education”
I know few parents who would not assert that their children are their most important life’s project and concern. Our school age children spend the majority of their waking time with their teachers, not with their parents. It only makes sense to dedicate a generous share of societal backing, support, and monetary remuneration to the people who will have a profound influence - positively or negatively - in how our children are guided, taught, and counseled during their most formative years. For local, state, and federal government not to prioritize generous funding of public education and teachers as strategic national assets who foster our country’s future leaders seems misguided, mean spirited, and counter productive. Their underfunding of Public Education is hurting our children, and it’s gone on far too long!
P.S. If you would like a glimpse of the war on public education in N.C. specifically, you could start by reading here.