Each fall, school buses begin to roll and school bells start ringing. The beginning of another school year is once again upon us. This should be an exciting time for students. Their love of learning, the joy of spending time with friends, and the many benefits of this intellectual environment are great motivators. But, these are not the kind of students or parents for whom this article is written. That would be preaching to the choir.
In today’s complex, technological world, everyone needs a strong education to stay gamefully employed and achieve economic stability. To compete, one must be educated. Gone are the days when one could drop out of school and make a living. Yet, in many parts of this country that offers free educational opportunities, we still face double-digit dropout rates. It’s a sad picture that must change.
Parents play a pivotal role. They must emphasize the benefits and need for a good education. They must provide an environment that encourages learning. The process starts at birth and is best begun by example. Their actions should include reading to children and showing them the joy of learning. Their actions should nourish the natural tendency we all have to learn new things. Their actions should make the home a place where learning never stops.
The unfortunate truth is that too many parents don’t care. Young children are absent from school because parents are too lazy to get up and dress them. These children go to school unfed because fixing breakfast is too much of an effort. The home environment is negative and lacks encouragement towards excellence. There is no appreciation for the value learning brings to one’s life and the doors of opportunity it opens. There seems to be a perpetual push towards ignorance.
When I served on the school board, my most discouraging moments were when I saw a child walking the streets during school hours or late at night during the school week. These pictures are still daily occurrences in many communities. Their elimination would bring great joy to my heart. Today’s school dropouts are tomorrow’s societal burdens. They will not compete in the job markets. They are more likely to become the next generation of criminals.
Education should be the top priority in every family. Education should be the top priority in every community of this great nation and not a lip-service activity. That is the only way to break the cycle of poverty and dependence on government subsidy for a livelihood. Personal pride accompanies development of our mind. Discouragement accompanies ignorance.
My wish is for all students to have a safe, productive, and insightful school year. My wish is for zero dropouts. My wish is for parents to be encouragers and disciplinarians who insist on learning being part of the life of their child. My wish is to break the chains of poverty and educational deficiencies that bind people to a life of mediocrity.
Perhaps those of you who read this article will accept the challenge to make a difference in the life a child this school year. Encourage them to value a strong education. I can think of no greater commitment!