November 2014 Column

 It’s fitting that Thanksgiving falls the week after American Education Week. The United States’ first public school opened in the 17th century. Unlike many countries, Americans still try to educate every child. Although we hold Eastern countries in high esteem for their academic standards, it is American schools that are envied by other countries for our ability to provide academic success for every child. The American educational system is highly touted for its creativity - which is one reason people have such concern over “standardized assessments.” We are not a one-size-fits-all country.

The Oscar Mayer hot dog jingle of years ago would not be politically correct in today’s society, but it gives credence to the current educational system. We educate rich kids, poor kids, kids who climb on rocks, weak kids, strong kids even kids with chicken pox. Education is the greatest equalizer in America. A homeless child has the same academic opportunities as a child from a wealthy family. Because of a proper education, many children in poverty are able to overcome their background and fulfill a life beyond their past.

I have seen children in classrooms with such diverse learning styles, it’s a wonder the teacher can get through a single lesson. Children are not only different in their physical makeup, they also have different ways in which their brains decode instruction. Some students are visual learners, others are auditory learners and many require hands-on applications. Some students need the room to be quiet while others prefer to move around. Yet teachers are compelled to educate every child in an average room of 900 square feet with the same curriculum and materials.

My intent here is to show that we are fortunate to live in a country that sees every American as having worth. We educate every child to be a productive citizen because it takes all of us to make this country work.
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