Monday, December 22, 2008


1. Don't bring your teacher an apple, bring them your cable boxes. Television, video games and assorted electronic babysitters have ruined the last three generations. Do something about it.
2. Send your preschool children with learned basic skills. Children today are starting at ground level. They do not know their alphabets, their numbers, yet alone simple basic sight words, yet they can reboot their Wii's and operate their DVR's. Tragic. No child left behind is not a governmental program, it is a parental mandated responsibility.
3. Allow your teachers to be innovative. Louisiana just passed a bill allowing the introduction of all viewpoints on everything from climate change to evolution. If your idea for education includes burying our children's heads in the sand and not discussing today's topics; gay marriage, abortion, war, assisted suicide and the like, your children will learn about them from their contemporaries and television. Good choice.
4. Forget the standard testing based on the regurgitation of facts, and concentrate on logic, critical thinking, problem solving and deduction. Our children leave school with a head full of facts, and no ability to think for themselves.
5. Help your local schools embrace an entrepreneurial spirit. You in the local business world can help your school in a myriad of ways, especially financially. It is a tragedy that educators have to buy their own supplies for their students mid-year. Our educators, our classrooms should have committees of parents whose role is to encourage local businesses to donate; and that means time, money and resources.
For example, the company I work for schedules annual meetings in large banquet rooms at an exorbitant cost. Why shouldn't we hold these events on a Saturday at a local school auditorium?
Our inner cities have thousands of parents who desperately need ESL training, or GED training, or need to learn a trade. All of our schools have hundreds of adults in need of training in Microsoft word, power point, excel, basic investing, home repairs, and the like. And, our schools have teachers who are struggling to survive financially. Can't we bring these groups together for their mutual benefit?
6. Accept reality. Your child is not going to be a doctor, or will benefit by going to college. It is time to stop pushing this myth that college is the penultimate answer for each and every child. We need to get real, separate the bottom students, and begin training them for a lucrative trade once they graduate. Here again is an opportunity for business to become involved.
What is the downside? If we keep going in the direct we are headed, we will crank out more and more high school graduates incapable of filling out an employment application.
My parents pushed the importance of a college education, and I know less educated plumbers and electricians who would laugh at my annual salary. Yes, money isn't the perfect end goal; we would like to think we are developing a well rounded, well educated society, but failing that, economic success for our children would not be a bad thing.
7. Let's rethink school vouchers for our high schools. By failing to separate our best students into an advance learning center, we fail to fully tap into our children's potentials. By the 10th grade, we know who the rocket scientists, and the landscapers will most likely be. Putting them into the same classrooms, or even the same schools, makes no sense. This isn't bigotry, it is educational Darwinism, and our country will be far better off because of it.
8. We need to reward our educators. The corporation I work for gives a 30% discount to anyone showing a teachers credential, and everyone else should do the same. I have worked for restaurants and convenience stores during my student years who would not dream of charging a policeman for a cup of coffee or doughnut. We need to develop this kind of reverence for our local teachers.
9. If you do use a daycare provider, pick one capable of educating, and not just babysitting. Daycare should be much more than a safe house with a big screen TV. Demand more from your daycare environment than you provide your children at home. They should be as professional as your child's heath care provider. You cannot underestimate the importance of an early educational start.
10. Give your child a gift that keeps on giving, a library card. The most underutilized resource in your town is the library, by a wide margin. Most adults don't even know where their local library is, let alone have a card. If you do not set the example, they will never know the importance and benefits of the written word. We cannot continue raising generations of video idiots.
11. Get involved. Maintain an ongoing conversation with your children's teachers. E-mail them, send them thank you cards, ask them how you can help. Team up with your child's teachers and maximize the educational experience for your offspring. Be an advocate, be an advisor, be a contributor. They cannot do it alone.

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