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Coastal Voices: Education — Play your role

Let me begin by saying thank you to Jan Moorehouse for opening the door with her Jan. 5 Coastal Voices piece, “Conversation, education-style.” This takes courage to open a dialogue you know can be polarized.

But I am saddened that no one has responded as of yet. So we’re essentially saying that everything is okay. I don’t know about you, but things aren’t okay. The world is getting more competitive every day and we’re falling behind. 

As a representative of a local employer, I’m concerned about the basic qualifications of future employees.  As a father of a young child, I’m concerned my child will not get a good enough education to be competitive, no matter where and what he intends to do with his life.

Having said this, I know there are plenty of excellent people in our school system working hard for our kids. I realize resources are scarce and the state and federal regulations make things difficult.  We need to rise above and ask ourselves, how we can raise the standards and push our children to excel given these challenges.  Making it easy for them or actually doing it for them is not going to prepare them for what they will face upon adulthood.

In Thomas Friedman’s book, “The World is Flat,” he researched global competitiveness, discusses it and how it relates to education.  In it he writes, “The global competitive playing field was being leveled. The world was being flattened… It is now possible for more people than ever to collaborate and compete in real time with more other people on more different kinds of work from more different corners of the planet and on a more equal footing than at any previous time in the history of the world-using computers, e-mail, fiber-optic networks, teleconferencing, and dynamic new software.”

 A little dramatic for my taste, but I do agree. Recently in the news it was mentioned that China will be the No. 1 economy in the world, overtaking our position in the next 20 years.  This will create more challenges for all of us, to put things mildly. 

Although state and federal rules may lower the standards, these are our kids who will struggle.  We need to understand the rules enough to ask how we can do better.  These days you can’t just walk out of high school and earn good money to provide a financially stable household anymore.  In order to succeed, you must be knowledgeable on a subject (college), have a skill (vocational training), or be prepared to go into the military. 

 While it is important for kids to have a diploma, we can’t give them one if they do not earn it.  We can’t leave anyone behind, but we sure don’t have to push them through so they feel good about getting a diploma only to have the business world break their spirits in their first job.  There is no competitive advantage in this scenario. We cannot do it for them, but we can push harder and strive to raise the standards so they are better equipped to go forward.

As an employer, I want quality employees. As a parent I want my child to have the best chance to succeed in our global economy.    As a community member, I want our businesses to succeed as well as our non-profits, local and state government, etc.  It doesn’t matter what organization it is, a good education is critical to succeed. My definition of success might be different than yours, but I think you get my point.

I share in this responsibility with the school district. I need to discipline and educate my child at home, as well as the school system. This includes a good night’s rest and regular, healthy meals; the basics. If I do not provide a good environment at home, inquire about his day at school and help or find help with his homework, then I can’t blame the teachers or the school system.    We all have to do our part.

There are no easy buttons and the global environment is always going to be challenging.  Jan suggested we call 707-465-1238 to get involved.  We essentially have a new School Board and the district is asking for input. This is an opportunity we should not pass up. The current and future generations of Del Norte County depend on the involvement of their parents and the business community in order to succeed. I hope you’ll show up and help.

 

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