Education is the answer.
Do you want to lead your community on the road to economic prosperity? Invest in education. Do you want to lower crime rates and live in a safer community? Invest in education. Do you want to help those less fortunate to break the cycle of poverty? Invest in education. These issues and a host of others are dramatically improved when we have excellent public schools, yet the discouraging fact remains that many simply do not see education as a priority issue. In most political campaigns, education is nothing more than a footnote lost in the focus on many other issues. When politicians do address the issue, we are more likely to get more incoherent rhetoric than to get anything of substance. And whether there has been a republican or democrat in office, the hyper focus on standardized testing and “accountability” has remained.
I am blessed to know many both in person and through social media who bring so much passion to educating our children and who help to keep my own passion burning bright. However, the passion of those outside the world of education for what happens in our schools is largely missing. If you hold a public meeting about education or put a referendum before the voters, many will not see it as a priority if they do not have a child in the public school system. As someone who has chosen a parochial school for my children, I can say many of us are guilty of the same sort of thinking. “What difference does it make to me what happens over in the public school? My kids don’t go there.” Although I choose to send my children to a Catholic school because I desire to raise them with a specific set of religious values, that doesn’t in any way lessen the importance I place on our public schools. If I didn’t believe in its power to change lives and serve the community, I wouldn’t make the sacrifices it takes to try to be a great educator in a public school.
The children we are educating today will be the ones who will be making the decisions about the direction our society will take when we are elderly and unable to make those decisions for ourselves anymore. Are we teaching them the skills they will need? Are we educating them to be wise? To be compassionate? To have empathy? To critically think through problems and challenges that we can’t even fathom today? I had the pleasure this past year of seeing Jamie Vollmer present at the Illinois Principals Association conference. In his book, “Schools cannot do it alone” Jamie, a businessman and former critic of public education, lays out his case that we all have a responsibility to make sure that the children in our public schools have the very best. Our future depends on it! Do you think we are doing a terrible job in public schools today? Attend some school board meetings and get informed. Better yet, ask a teacher at a local school how you can help. The future of our society is only as good as the education we provide for each student today. Be a part of a brighter future for your community!