July 30 is National Support Public Education Day. This led me to think about the call to support public education. Where would our country be were it not for a free public education? Surely not everyone would have the kinds of opportunities they now have. An illiterate person today has very few options for being successful or even just making a basic living.
We also know that our educational system as it is today is far from perfect. Our students are not doing as well as they once did compared to students in other countries. We see violence in our schools, from bullying to shootings. Those problems and more plague our schools.
So when the call comes out to support public education, who would not want to answer it? It doesn’t matter whether you have kids or not either. The better our children do, the better our country does. At the risk of sounding cliche, kids are our future.
Speaking of cliches, though, the call to support public education is itself a bit of a cliche. What exactly does it mean to support public education? According to the petition calling for July 30th to be the official National Support Education Day, it means this:
America can no longer accept what is happening with its education system. When something is inherently wrong, it must be corrected by allowing all parties to come together to do what is right. Please help us make this happen by declaring July 30th National Support Public Education Day and by supporting our efforts to make America’s public education system meet the real needs of every child no matter where he or she might live or what his or her circumstances might be.
That sounds great. Rich or poor, every child will get his or her needs met. Children with disabilities will get their needs met. Children whose native language is not English will get their needs met. Supposedly, even gifted children will get their needs met. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. To be fair, it’s not always the case that the other children I listed will get their needs met.
However, laws mandate that special needs kids must be accommodated. And few people would object to ensuring that poor children or children whose native language is not English get an appropriate education. That doesn’t seem to be the case with rich kids or gifted kids. In that case, it seems unfair to many people that kids who already clearly have advantages to take valuable resources away from kids who really need them.
That attitude suggests that rich kids and gifted kids somehow don’t need educational services. The parents of rich kids can afford private schools and outside services that poor parents can’t afford. And gifted kids? Well, they’ll do just fine on their own. Right? If you believe that, then you don’t understand gifted children very well. Some gifted kids will be just fine on their own, but we can say that about some kids from the other groups of children as well.
Read more about my views on this issue in my article Supporting Public Education.
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