April 21, 2011

Suffer Our Children

2 Chronicles 1:10; Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?"

The United States of America is one of the most powerful nations in the world. This nation is a leader in economics, medicine, science, technology, higher education; the military is second to none. The Untied States competes on a global scale, but cannot sustain levels of competition when our children suffer from educational depravity in our schools. Our children are suffering from an expanding denial of a right to quality education. This is not a minority issue, but crosses racial and socioeconomic lines. The quality of an education is not based on pay increases of teachers, although this is a relative factor. The availability of qualified and certified teachers, administrators and the importance of support staff that want to help children is crucial. Educational resources include books, libraries, Physical Education, Arts/Music and in this day of technology integration, the correct implementation of computers is important to meet the needs of the various learning modalities in diverse classrooms.

One of the most dangerous threats to education in recent years is from those who are not educators, but politicians. Those that have no educational experience, but try to regulate and micro-manage the classroom from outside the classroom. How can children be taught from a legislative (political) agenda and not an education (children) agenda? When education is micromanaged by legislative measures teachers and children suffer.
The ten (10) evaluators of educational success (IMO) are; 1.The dedication of the parents (mother and father) who birthed that child (children) or legal guardian they are the FIRST teachers. 2. The student who is taught and fairly assessed by school, district and state assessment. That student should be taught basic reading skills and have a value for education. This goes back to the responsibility of the parent or guardian. 3. The quality of the teacher who is educated, certified, and supported by administration and the school district. 4. The student’s literacy and comprehension ability to read on grade level. 5. The promotional success from one grade level to another (AYP). 6. The lowering retention rate of students. 7. The growing graduation rate of all students regardless of race or socioeconomic status. 8. The acceptance of students into higher education, vocational/technical schools and military service. 9. The ability to gain/learn employable skills to obtain jobs. 10. Desire of students to continue a life of learning into adult years. These ten (10) areas are key indicators to measure the success of any educational system.  A quote from Governor Bob Wise “The best economic stimulus package is a high school diploma.”

During legislative sessions parents should not have a “wait and see” attitude, they may wait too late. Parents that are silent are ignored and do not have value, so the silent voice is a detriment and submission to political agendas. Parents should ask these questions; If a legislator has not visited schools in their districts how can they regulate education? How can a legislator evaluate teachers when they do not, have not, or will not sit down and talk to teachers who have concerns about the quality of legislative support and a safe educational environment? Support is not always monetarily, but listening to teachers, visiting and participating in classrooms. Those in political offices from Governor, to legislator cannot micromanage from Atlanta, Tallahassee or other state capitals. When was the last time a member of our legislative body had a student from any academic level read to them? When have members of legislature walked the halls of our inner city schools, eaten lunch in our cafeterias, attended a PTO meeting or even taken the time to sit in a parent advisory meeting? These actions should be done each year, not when it is re-elections time. Legislators are elected to service the people not serve themselves personal political agendas.

How can our governmental leaders slight and disrespect public education by signing legislation at a Charter School when that legislation affects public education? Parents of our challenged schools which are in all neighborhoods cannot wait on Superman, XMen or even Avengers and certainly cannot wait on those in position of legislative and governmental seats. Parents must take responsibility for their child(ren) in learning and having resources from the people they elected to office. The changes both economic and political will change the classroom environment, parents cannot complain about schools if they are not involved, cannot criticize teachers when the first teacher is the parent.  Being a public education educator over 20 years,
I and my educational peers have noticed the change in lower quality, irresponsible and unaccountable support from our legislators, this support is declining. Parents must research educational budgets, the change in state assessment levels (FCAT) and the requirement for graduation, entrance into higher education and the diminishing financial support from scholarships (Bright Futures) and financial aid. Our state governments view budgets, line items expenditures, opportunities to make money, invest in money making ventures (taxes), but does not view education as a support mechanism for current or future economic growth.

Parents, take the time to understand where your child’s education fits into a political agenda, the responsibility as a parent is to make sure those in positions that finance education, care about education to support education. Will the legislation support educational success for all students or cut budgets resulting in teachers and students becoming educational fodder. When interpreting the Bible and references to “suffering children” it is evident in this legislative session of slashed budgets, no child should be left behind, but children will be left further behind. In comparison, China and India have increased their educational budgets, how can students in Florida public schools hope to compete when they are already facing cuts? How can our children compete when technical careers require advanced degrees and our children cannot afford to continue their education? Teachers cannot be held accountable for budgets that take away resources from the classroom; The Arts, Physical Education, Music and Technology are all valuable to the enrichment of our children to compete in global economic and educational competitions worldwide. Foreign countries value Physical Education and The Arts because they understand the power of the integration of cross curriculum learning. Where will our students be in five (5) years relative to their educational levels? The time is now when all parents no matter color, culture or social economic status will have to take a stand.

If education cannot get support from elected leaders the acceleration of children’s failure in the educational system will see more students dropping out, lower graduating classes and increased inability to gain employment. In Mark 9:41, the “cup” of our educational system is filled with knowledge and understanding. Parents must not allow someone to take this cup and fill it with the vinegar of ignorance.

We (parents and teachers) have a responsibility to teach children, guide them and support them, as parents have a responsibility to keep them safe from those who seek to keep them in ignorance and will do more damage to them cognitively and intellectually. In Mark 9:42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” This is not to bring threats or innuendo, but for a realizations that if our children are to compete in global markets funding should not be cut. Our children will be thrown into a sea of low income jobs, lack of technology skills and low expectations to be successful.

If we continue to allow these educational travesties to budgets occur educational systems will be stripped of the ability to educate fairly, with equality and compassion. It is written, documented in the oldest book of knowledge (The Bible) the importance of education, but this is being taken from our children, but parents should not allow this to happen.

Educate the Children and Fund Education Fairly and with Wisdom

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