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Roger MacDonald

Are You Ready, Class of 2007?
By Roger MacDonald
May 30, 2007 - 4:39:45 PM

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June is nigh, and the high school classes of 2007 approach graduation, have we adults prepared them?

High school seniors hearken here, the world awaits your, like, totally amazing conquest of the future.

If it happens it will be totally amazing; because most of you have an inadequate skill set to cope with the incredible challenge of maintaining our nation's place in the world. I'm aghast, over the situation and nebulous about the future.

In the next three columns, I'd like to speak to this issue, education for our society's future.

The problem is many fold and before the finger pointing starts, I say accept the blame, each of us, and work on a solution. So of whom do I speak, and accuse; there are we adults, the public schools, and the students themselves.

First the schools. One, education has become a commodity -quality education is available if you can pay; two the public schools cannot be all things to all people; and three "no child left behind" is an absurd farce. Most important though - education is not a competitive career field.

What is the primary focus of our K to 12 public education. I don't believe a straight answer could be garnered from the National Education Association, any school board, teachers, parents or students.

When I went to school it was to give students the tools for higher learning or functioning in the workplace. Rather than spread out the focus of the school curriculum and lament that "there is so much more we have to teach." we need to stick to the fundamentals. No child left behind was feel good legislation that did nothing to address the underlying issues in education or society.

Why not sharpen the focus of these young people to: become informed through reading; be able to write a coherent sentence and well reasoned argument; have the ability to demonstrate mathematical proficiency; and to conduct research while documenting their findings in a well crafted original research paper.

Focus in the schools though, cannot be achieved while also, solving all of our social ills; being national child care providers; surrogate parents; and the farm system for professional sports.

Lastly, "you don't go into education for the money." I'm sorry but that argument needs to go the way of the Dodo, or we as a nation will surely go that way as well. Women of the 50's and early 60's had three basic professional options, Nursing, Education, and Library science with secretarial and executive assistant positions as an adjunct. The underlying attitude that teaching was a female, second income, has persisted and drives teacher salaries still today.

I applaud the fact that a woman's career options are closer than ever to where they should be, i.e. limitless. The fact remains though, that the caliber of women that taught my generation, are now becoming attorneys, physicians, and MBA's.

The central fact is, the mission of the schools is to produce, informed, well-rounded students with skills in the arts and sciences. To do that requires a tightly run, focused system that is also a quality workplace for the adults charged with shaping the future of America.

Next week, as a parent, I'd like to speak to parenting student.

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