Make This School Year Great

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Here we go again. Another school year is about to start, so it’s a fitting time to ask ourselves how we –parents, teachers, and students — can make this a great and productive year. Everyone has a stake in the education of the children of this country because these youngsters are our future voters, employees, and employers.

Parents need to realize that their children’s education is ultimately their responsibility, no matter how or where this education is taking place. Even if your children have wonderful, caring teachers, these same educators have many more students that they are also responsible for, so there is only so much time they can devote to each child. It is imperative that parents understand educational milestones and check their children’s progress regularly and frequently. My sister-in-law, a New York public school teacher, said that if a child doesn’t learn to read by third grade, he or she is basically considered a lost cause. This should never happen. Parents need to be aware of what their children should know and when, and if there’s a problem, they need to address it sooner rather than later. Advocate for your child and make yourself known in the school. Be prepared to speak up if there’s a problem, and stay informed by reading communications from the teacher or other school personnel. Check your child’s homework frequently to make sure all is well.

Teachers, especially those in public schools, have a lot of restrictions placed upon them by the federal government, and unfortunately must dedicate a lot of time to bureaucratic matters rather than actually teaching. This is a real problem, and the children of this country are getting short-changed as a result. Great teachers everywhere need to remember their calling, take matters into their own hands as much as is humanly possible, and get back to imparting real knowledge that will actually educate children and make the United States competitive again. They need to spend time every day reading great works of literature, helping their students analyze what has been read. Analytical thinking hasn’t really been a focus of teaching in the public schools for years, which is one of our country’s biggest problems. Teachers are being forced to spend way too much time preparing their students for the next standardized test because successful outcomes means more money. A long-term view is what is needed instead in order for the U.S. to regain its competitive edge.

Finally, students need to internalize the fact that they are in school for their benefit, not anyone else’s. Many young people don’t take their education seriously until sometime in high school when they realize that there’s a relationship between their performance and their future. Those who realize it sooner are at an obvious advantage. As parents and educators, we need to try to get them to understand this. They are not in school for our benefit. It is their future that is on the line. So, if any students are reading this, remember that you won’t ever regret working hard in school. If you don’t work hard, however, you will likely be sorry later, and your path in life may be much more difficult as a result.

Here’s hoping for a great school year for everyone – parents, teacher, and students. Let’s give it our best.