OUR VIEW: Children need to win in education fight

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:38 am on Thursday, January 31, 2013

Knowledge. What higher pursuit could there be for any of us; either as a provider, recipient or both? What higher motive … than to instill in oneself or others at least a modest portion of the accumulated knowledge of the civilized world? For the earliest moments of a child’s life, learning starts at home. We emphasize “at home,” because in the formative years, much of every child’s future is being programmed, preferably in partnership with parents and teachers.

There’s a battle brewing in Michigan right now between advocates for the traditional K-12 public school system and proponents of some revolutionary new approaches to funding public education. Strong public school systems can — and do — provide literally the opportunity of a lifetime for Michigan children. But that opportunity is not strong or obvious in every school system. And for too many youngsters, at-home encouragement to achieve their full academic potential is not available.

Sufficient parental involvement in their child’s schooling could minimize many of the concerns about today’s public schools. We acknowledge that many families, especially in single parent homes, are burdened by the simple demands of  putting food on the table, let alone enjoying quality time with the kids. Likewise, teachers faced with the task of serving lots of kids “in loco parentis” face equally challenging conditions. No doubt feelings of being overwhelmed, exasperated and just plain tired are shared by parents and teachers alike. So how can we help them? These issues deserve serious attention from all of us, and of course, from our elected leaders.

Increased funding for early education (Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program) enjoys widespread support across the state. More training and support for advancing teacher skills also is viewed favorably. Proposals on the docket for reform of Michigan school funding that include more school choice, more charter schools and tax dollars to for-profit internet schools are approaches being resisted by Michigan’s education establishment.

Ever since the founding of the Boston Latin School in 1635, America’s public schools have helped propel us to the front of the class in world power. But the phenomenal 20th century growth of our country’s economy may also have distracted us from promoting a need for the majority of Americans to achieve their full academic or technical potential.

The world is presenting challenges we have largely not prepared for, particularly in science, mathematics and foreign language skills. This places parts of the longstanding education model in jeopardy. There’ll be a push to unbundle education funding to match up somewhere with Gov. Snyder’s advocacy of approaching education on an any time, any place, any way, any pace basis.

Whatever the means of providing a quality educational experience, our children must be the ultimate profit-takers in the business of education. Their learning process should be helped along by a personal team of advocates that includes family, teachers and a community bringing them academic and social fulfillment.

 Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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