Sunday, August 22, 2010

Parents - Education Must Be Priority One!!

On September 7, 2010 over 30,000 Paterson students who speak 25 different languages will enter fifty-two schools in the Paterson Public School District (PPS) kicking off the 2010-2011 school year and as they do so it is incumbent upon parents to make their children’s education priority one.

We do not have the luxury or the time to have education be anything less than our top priority. It must be our focus as parents. On Aug. 18, 2010, Jim Axelrod reported in a segment of the CBS News with Katie Couric a story entitled The Freshman Foul: Poor ACT Scores; High School Students Score Lower than Ever on ACT: 28 Percent Unprepared to Pass Even One College-Level Subject. In that report it was cited that the United States is being outperformed by 23 countries in Math; 16 countries in Science; and 9 countries in Literacy. Telling statistics about where we are in the state of education in the U.S.

If we as parents do not make education our number one priority, the list of countries outperforming us academically will continue to increase by subject. Nearly 30% of students graduating high school are unprepared to pass first year college courses in Math, Reading, English and Science. Think about that.

As horrifying as these statistics and reports may sound, we have the power to turn things around. As my mother and father would always say, “It starts in the home.” These dire statistics can be turned around, but it must start in the home. This is not the blame game, but the truth of the matter is, parents are their children’s first teachers (good or bad) whether they like it or not. Parenting does not come with the Charles Barkley option of saying “I am not a role model.”

During a radio interview on my weekly radio show The Reading Circle with Marc Medley, I was extremely encouraged by the conversation I had with Cheyanne Alexandra Rosier, a nine year old student who has been skipped twice and will be starting sixth grade this school year. She is among other things a published author already. To hear the articulation of this child and her ability to express herself was refreshing and inspirational letting me know that it can indeed be done. Cheyanne’s mother and father constantly challenge her at home through dialogue and by requiring her to critically think about her actions and decisions. Cheyanne’s home life plays just as much of a role in her education as her school life and it has paid off. In my heart of hearts, I know there are more Cheyanne’s out there. It is just a matter of us parents taking the time to mold and shape our children by helping them understand the importance of education. Move away from questions that allow your children to give you one word answers. Ask them, how did you get to that conclusion? Find out their thought process. Conversate with them. We can do this!!

So as our 30,000 Paterson students who speak 25 different languages enter those fifty-two schools on September 7, 2010, I challenge the parents of those 30,000 children to make education priority number one. It has to become priority number one. I welcome your thoughts.

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