Too often education's "players" take the approach of "what's in it for me." Others are all about empire building or gaining more control. Still others see the schools as laboratories of social experimentation. Others simply don't have time or take the time to really care.
Teachers: By far the easiest of scapegoats. Deserved? Not as much as some would believe, but they must share responsibility. Often they are expected to serve in loco parentis for their students-a role that is neither appropriate nor legal-when parents abdicate their responsibilities to control and train their children. Values and discipline should not have to be taught in school. They should be well-established before the first day of kindergarten or at least well on their way.
It is the place of a teacher to focus on the subjects for which they are responsible, provide material that presents an unbiased and objective view of the material, and train their students to think for themselves and develop the critical thinking skills that facilitate sound decision-making regardless of the subject. As with any other profession ... 100 percent effort should be given 100 percent of the time. Some will, because they love their job. Others won't, because it's just a job. You knew how much the job paid when you accepted it. Prove you are worth more through results achieved.
A recent Gallup poll provides some food for thought: 54-55 percent of students consider themselves "hopeful" or "engaged" in school. However, another Gallup poll showed that 56 percent of teachers were NOT engaged at work. With half the teachers not giving 100 percent, what can we expect?
Unions: Lots of talk about what is "best for the children" but when it comes to supporting that concept in their contract demands, there is far less caring demonstrated. Are they more interested in collecting dues and influencing elections? Both sides must give in order to achieve positive change. What's happening now doesn't get it. Did Scott Walker have the right idea?
Parents: Do you know how your child is doing from day-to-day? Do you read your child's textbooks and other material they bring home from school? Does the material that your child brings home accurately reflect your understanding of truth presenting a balanced position, or do they advocate for one point of view? Do you actually read the books your children are using in school? If they don't bring such things home do you ask why they don't, or are you too busy with other things? Can you look yourself in the mirror and say you know how your child performs in school and why?
Principals/Administrators: At the school level, instead of being task-masters, perhaps focus more on being problem solvers for the teachers. Lift that burden from their backs by being the one who removes the obstacles to constructive teaching time on academics.
At the district level, do you take the trouble to create your own curriculum or buy some packaged one from a publisher with an agenda to push at the kids? Do you follow the direction of your board's policies to achieve improvement? Do you look for truly innovative approaches? Do you truly understand the authority of the local districts under state law? There are few restrictions. Do you resist federal intrusions and mandates, or roll over and excuse it with "they are impossible to fight," or "we need the money."
Everyone has a role to play and when all enter the battle with a single objective in common-excellent education for our children-we all win.
Tom Stark is a Parkersburg businessman. Freedom Alliance for We The People is a non-partisan group of Mid-Ohio Valley citizens committed to responsible, constitutionally limited government and a better community for all.