Education must become priority

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On Face The Nation this week the panelists were talking about the issues in this year’s presidential campaign when one of them made the statement that in the debates and in that discussion the most important issue was not being addressed, and was not among the biggest concerns with the voters.

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That issue she said is education, or the lack of it in public schools. I agree 100 percent with her.

She said that public schools must be fixed throughout the country if America is going to get back on track. One panelist stated that the problem in this country actually started in the 1970s and has been getting worse.

Why education?

Because the No. 2 problem in this country is unemployment. How do you fix unemployment? Education. There are thousands of job openings that cannot be filled because Americans don’t have the education. In order to create more jobs Americans must be better educated on how to create jobs. Education is not just reading, writing, math, and science, but education on how to create businesses.

The government is critical, and who’s sitting in the White House makes a huge difference, but in the long run the people who will turn this country around are the middle class, and where do most of them receive their educations? Public schools.

Charter schools and private schools are great, but if we are going to turn this economy around everyone must contribute. That means the private sector must become creative again, the private sector must be able to compete in the market place as producers and consumers.

Former President Bush had it right when he started the No Child Left Behind campaign, but now this must be made more than just a slogan. The problem I have with all the School Choice rhetoric is that I don’t see a plan for all kids, especially low and middle income Blacks as a whole. Not just a hand full.

There have been several methods that have been proven to work at charter schools and public schools. These methods need to be adopted across the board in the public school system. I don’t hear the School Choice people, who are mostly Republicans, asking for more money to be put into public schools. They would cut the Department of Education.

I’m not saying blindly give money to non-performing schools, but give money to help these schools perform better. Common sense says that it’s going to take more money to run public schools than private or charter schools because you have more kids, but more important, more problem kids.

Why do the suburban public schools function better? They don’t have the poverty and ignorance that the inner-city schools have. Yes, I said ignorance.

What do I mean?

I’m talking about a high percentage of kids who come to school, not for an education, but because they have to come. Why do you think the drop-out rate is so high? They don’t understand the importance of an education.

I’m talking about kids who are disruptive in class, or simply don’t pay attention. Kids whose parents are not interested in education, and don’t see education as being important to their future or their child’s future.

Most of the blame is being placed on the teachers, but the fault lies not only with the teachers, but the administrators and the system itself. We must address this problem with programs that’s going to cost money, and redirect the curriculum toward employment, and jobs creation. Meaning not just training our youth to work for others, but show them the rewards in creating their own businesses. This is public and private sector working together.

The fear I have with non-public schools and comparing them to public schools is that in most cases you are not comparing apples to apples because even if a child has been a problem child and comes from the same environment the fact that his parents cared enough to put him in a charter school separates him from many of the public school youths who don’t have the parents that know or care enough to push and motivate them to learn, which is critical to obtaining an education.

So if we are going to address this country’s number one problem we are going to have to make it a priority; realizing that unemployment will never drop from the 8 to 9 percent it’s at now to the 4 to 5 percent where we want it, without it. Businesses are not going to grow without it. The deficit will not be balanced without it. The prisons will continue to be filled to the max, without it.

The community should make sure education is at the top or near the top of their agenda for the coming years during and after the presidential election.

Please Let No Child Be Left Behind, because A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste. We are all important.

(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)

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