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What Our Schools Can Do Better

Let us not rest on our laurels as we send our graduates into the future.

Millions of young adults in America mark June’s graduations and moving up ceremonies as a rite of passage.  

Experts from a range of political, business and community worlds hold forth during commencement addresses on big dreams, service to others and hard work. Students, administrators and educators smile, pack up their classrooms and drift into summer. Somewhere, tumbleweed stumbles over lonely Astroturf.

Perhaps our graduates will mull the advice of these speakers, perhaps not. But before we know it, we’ll be back to school. And since we all desire stronger schools, why not consider how we can make next year more valuable?

  • Better financial education. Research indicates that children must learn basic money management skills early. Why not teach those skills in math class using the practical applications that adults use every day? This past year, my daughter came home with a math exercise that asked her to spend a million dollars and account for how she did it. The rub? She couldn’t spend it on assets. What a missed opportunity! While we provide the basics of sound money practices at home, wouldn’t it be nice if our schools taught kids about things like saving for retirement, how credit works and the importance of rainy day money? Let me tell you, spending a million bucks on non-assets takes a lot of effort.
  • Better vocational training. Remember whining after chemistry class, but I’m never going to use this in real life! Well, most of us don’t and it’s time we do a better job encouraging non-white-collar career choices such as plumbing, mechanics, electrical, woodworking and other hands-on jobs. Think I’m wrong? Go look at your checkbook and see what you paid your electrician to rewire your kitchen last year, or look up the invoice from when you replaced your central a/c.  Real opportunities exist outside the board room, and not everyone wants to be or should be a banker. Plus, many find working with the hands satisfying as well as mentally stimulating.
  • Better entrepreneurship skills training. took an important step in the right direction by introducing an entrepreneurship course to its high school students beginning this fall. The more we can combine professional outreach with in-school skills, the more prepared our students will be for life beyond the classroom. Our area enjoys tremendous human capital resources and putting those resources to work in the classroom may help our kids learn why and how self-employed business owners are often the most successful folks around.
  • Better community outreach. While some area communities have managed to keep their budget increases at or near zero, others have suffered large increases as a result of politically and strategically difficult-to-control administrative costs such as health insurance and postretirement benefits. Rising taxes, weak home values and high unemployment equal unhappy taxpayers — especially those who don’t currently have children in school. Including our taxpayers — especially older taxpayers — in the educational process is bound to engender mutual respect and understanding. It will also offer students and administrators alike some valuable perspective and countless teachable moments.

In our region we are fortunate to have many of the nation’s top school districts. Our communities recognize the importance of maintaining outstanding public schools and our programs are among the most innovative in the nation.

But let us not stop there. We should not think of June only as marking the end of graduates’ educational careers. Instead, let us look to the new academic year with an eye focused on practical, common sense solutions to adult problems.  

Bonnie June 13, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Referring to the older people in our town that complain about paying taxes when they currently do not have children in the schools, they probably once did even if it wasn't in the town of Oxford. It's a fact of life, you pay taxes wherever you live unless you move into a assisted living facility. I'm personally tired of listening to my neighbors complain, I feel like saying "if you don't like it, there's a senior housing complex in near by towns". I also think that we as parents should be able to go to SOMEONE in the school system to voice our opinion about a certain teacher that may perhaps be making our children hate a certain subject because of that teacher. My daughter has a social studies teacher whom is very mean and isn't fair when it comes to grading tests, homework and projects, she will ALWAYS find something wrong no matter how good she did. For example; a test with 2 open ended questions, the question was NOT very descriptive. My daughter covered all areas of the question in an extensive paragraph. She got a 0!!! Why did she even bother answering it? My daughter is an honor roll student at GOMS, she has learned how to overcome this teacher but I'd like to tell someone the issues this teacher has without my daughter catching crap!!! Please help!!!
Educating Our Children June 13, 2012 at 01:22 PM
You are not the first parent I have heard complaining. It is too bad that we couldn't all get together and get something done. It feels as though there are only a few dedicated teachers in all of our school system that actually care about our children. Unless you stay actively involved in your child's education they get lost in the system here in Oxford. We shouldn't have to police the schools, it should be the responsibility of the Administrators. Communication between the parents and the teachers needs to be improved especially when it comes to the updating of Powerschool. We are asked to use it to monitor our children but so many of the teachers don't update it as often as they should. Teachers used to have pride in teaching there student and watching them grow. It seems the no longer care about a child having problems, they just leave them behind. We can only hope that the new Superintendent of schools can help create a better learning environment for our children and weed out the teachers that should have been retired years ago or that are not dedicated to educating our children. I feel your pain.

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