Education in America

Great Schools . . . it's OUR Responsibility!
by Sam Johnson

       “Education has always been central to ensuring opportunity, and to instilling in all our citizens the defining American values of freedom, equality, and respect for one another. 
        "Our Nation's schools can give students the tools, skills, and knowledge to participate fully in our democracy, and to succeed in college, career, and life. 
        "This week, let us reaffirm the importance of education and recognize that we all share in the responsibility to educate our students.”  
         -- Pres. Barack Obama, "American Education Week"   


     This week, President Obama reaffirmed the importance of education both to our nation’s core values and to our future success by signing a proclamation for "American Education Week" that runs from November 13-19.
     This week, schools across the U. S. are celebrating "American Education Week" with a variety of activities aimed at highlighting the importance of education in our society.
     "American Education Week" was initiated after World War I review boards discovered that about 25 percent of the draftees were illiterate and about 29 percent were physically unfit.
     In 1917, the American Legion, the National Education Association (NEA) and the U.S. Office of Education discussed launching an educational campaign to correct such deficiencies.
     A series of conferences that began in 1919 led to a plan for an annual nationwide observance. And two years later in 1921, the first "American Education Week" observance took place.
     To this day, the American Legion continues to partner with the National Education Association and U.S. Office of Education to co-sponsor "American Education Week," and issued the following statement:

U.S. Education Info & Resources

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•  Resources for "American Education Week"

Our Responsibility and Duty
     "Ninety years of concern and interest will be observed November 13-19, 2011, during the annual nationwide observance of 'American Education Week.'
     "This year’s theme is: 'Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility.'
"Since 1921, The American Legion, its Auxiliary and professional groups have promoted, with good cause, the idea of visitation to our schools. Though the reasons for their initial activities have changed, these groups and others continue to lead the way in seeking the aid and assistance of every concerned American for better schools.
"American Education Week is not just for parents and educators, it’s for everyone. With the aid of statistics, it is quite apparent that many citizens have not visited their local schools since their own graduation from high school. Exercise your right and responsibility in 2011 and visit the school of your choice.
"This year’s theme should remind each of us that we have a duty and a responsibility to see that our children are prepared to take up the roles of citizens and leaders in the years to come."

Our Students Need Us
     The theme of this year's celebration, "Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility," spotlights the importance of providing every child in America with a quality public education, and represents NEA's vision of calling upon ALL Americans to do their part in making public schools great for every child, so that they can grow and achieve in the 21st century.
     According to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, "Public schools are the foundation of our country's prosperity and strength. America’s students need all of us -- educators, parents, students, elected officials and community leaders -- working together and investing in their schools.
     “The path to the American dream still runs through America’s public schools. 'American Education Week' is a time to commit ourselves to providing great public schools so all students can pursue the American Dream.”

What Can We Do?
     Okay, so what can WE do to play our part in making sure our schools are great for every child?
     Here are some suggestions:
     • Tell your local school board members, superintendent, school principals what you would like to see improved in your school district -- such as more opportunities for gifted and talented students, programs that support service learning, curriculum that fosters critical thinking about today's global issues as well as strategies for dealing with bullies and techniques of conflict resolution, etc.

     • Tell Congress to pass an ESEA reauthorization bill that will work for real students in your schools and classrooms. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act is up for reauthorization. Let your voice be heard. Tell senators Conrad and Hoeven and representative Berg that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t allow real students to learn and succeed in the 21st century.

     • Tell Congress to Support the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act. Students can’t learn to their potential when they are sitting in deteriorating school buildings with leaky roofs, peeling paint, broken lights, and inadequate plumbing. The average school in this country was built more than 40 years ago, and conditions in many of these structures are a distraction or worse for students.


      • Or do something as simple as visit one of your local schools and share with the administrators, faculty, or staff your observations and thoughts.


      There are many things we can do to fulfill our duty to make sure we have great schools with great teachers and administrators helping educate our great students!

      It really is OUR responsibility.

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