By Josh Hursa
This country has a long history of providing thorough and efficient public education. However, in the last 20 years, our education system has not been up to par, especially in math and science. Sen. John McCain has a comprehensive plan to combat our current problems educating the populace.
Education works best when parents are involved in their children’s lives. Parents take time out of their busy schedules to run for school board, participate in PTA meetings and coach their children’s extracurricular activities. We must not only support but also encourage active engagement of parents in the American education system. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. When parents do not get involved with their local school districts, the education system fails. When schools crumble in New Jersey, Trenton throws money at the problem. Despite massive amounts of state aid, the school systems in Newark, Trenton and Camden are deteriorating. Graduation rates at public high schools in urban areas remain the same. Smart, dedicated students have to sit in dilapidated schools with uncaring teachers. School choice is the only escape for inner-city students. Parents should be able to choose not only what their children learn but where they go to school.
New Jersey spends, on average, $14,630 per student per annum: the second highest per-student cost in the nation. That money should follow the student, not be spent in school districts that are in a death spiral. As a graduate of a public vocational school, I understand how lucky I was to be able to choose a school that gave me the skills to succeed at Rider. School choice gives students and parents the ability to find an environment that fosters educational growth and personal achievement. If their local high school cannot provide that, should they be stuck there because they cannot afford to go to private school? The government has a responsibility to ensure a fair, efficient education and parents can spot a bad investment when they see one.
The backbone of the education system in this country is the teacher. People devote their entire professional careers to helping shape young lives. We all have a teacher whom we still hold in high esteem, a role model for our personal goals and ambitions. Unfortunately, all too often, we run into educators who have lost that drive and passion. We need to promote the best teachers in our education system with bonuses and weed out the teachers who fail to meet up to our educational standards. India and China have surpassed us in math and science test scores. In order to compete in the 21st century, we must bring in the smartest math and science teachers to get students educated and excited about those topics. The entire education system will benefit from removing teacher tenure and creating a system that benefits teachers who inspire their students to reach for the stars. We need to make sure that those teachers who give us so much encouragement, drive and determination get their fair compensation.
Rider University is cultivating the next generation of teachers. Those who aspire to be teachers have a difficult task ahead of them. We hope they will be able to inspire the generation that follows ours to think critically, question and grow with every passing day. The only way to make sure that students grow is giving the parents the option of where their children go to school and demanding real results from teachers who are entrenched in the current tenure system. Americans always live up to expectations; let’s set the bar high for the next generation.