Education is a ‘village’ affair

Genuine learning never comes easy. In a society that has become accustomed to instant gratification and rewards without requirements, we have seen the damage done and recognize the need to get serious about public education.

During the next 15 days, students from the Tri-parish region will return to their classrooms. They face a year when state budget cuts could result in reduced learning opportunities.

Teachers are up against their own challenges. They work in a system that puts more importance on passing standardized tests to secure money than making sure Dick and Jane can read, calculate and reason.

The Louisiana Department of Education boasts that a dropout rate of 5.7 percent during the 2009-10 school year was a vast improvement from the 8.3 percent listed the previous academic season.

However, education administrators, whose job it is paint as rosy of a picture as possible, fail to mention that Louisiana’s four-year graduation rate ranks 47th in the nation at only 67 percent.

While we acknowledge that school districts in Lafourche, St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes have posted overall improvements in attendance, test scores and graduation levels, we must admit that their grades are far from satisfactory.

We cannot justify blaming teachers, superintendents or school boards for the history of poor performance in Louisiana schools. We can, however, call upon parents and members of local communities to take an active interest in the education of our youth.

We urge civic leaders to become involved in creating programs that will mentor students through internships, businesses to draw the attention of youths toward the workings of their communities, churches and civic organizations to offer opportunities where service to others might be learned, and parents to take on the accountability of active interest and pay attention to what their children are and are not learning both inside and outside the classroom.

Our public schools were never intended to be babysitting services and skilled educators should not be subjected to discipline problems that were not sufficiently handled in the home.

If our children are not properly educated and trained to be responsible, contributing members of society we have only ourselves to blame.

It is time to start a new school year and invest in our future. It is up to each of us to make sure our children make the grade. Otherwise, we all fail.