I’m still on an education kick, especially since it seems that’s all that’s in the news right now. These are the headlines in our local paper from the past week:

  • Central Point Schools Brace for Big Cuts
  • New Schools Budget Would Cut 35 Teaching Jobs
  • Rogue River Schools Face Tough Budget Decisions

The latest budget forecast is due out today, and though everyone is hoping for better numbers than we received earlier, nobody is expecting it. My teacher friends are wondering if they’ll have jobs next year, parents are wondering if they’ll have to find extra daycare, should the schools go to a four day week, and everyone is up in arms about the quality (or lack thereof) of education.

Solutions that have been tossed around are:

  • Cutting out Middle School Sports
  • Cutting out Elementary School Music
  • Moving to a Four Day School Week
  • Cutting Staff
  • Cutting Administrator Salaries (that suggestion mostly comes from the public)

I’m not convinced any of these things will fix the public education system, though. I’m not even convinced that more money will fix things.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a great deal of respect for teachers and principals. They work hard and dedicate their lives to helping students get ahead. But oversized classrooms and strict testing standards prevent teachers from doing their jobs effectively.

I think another big, but often unmentioned, problem is the lack of support from a child’s parents. Over the years I’ve volunteered in both of my children’s classrooms, and I’m appalled by what I see.

  • Kids are late to school every day (elementary kids, whose parents bring them!)
  • Kids come to school hungry (our school got a grant to provide free breakfast to every student, every day…that’s the first 10 minutes of class).
  • Kids deal with abuse or parental drug abuse at home.
  • Parents make excuses for their kid’s bad behavior.

As long as teachers are acting as social workers for our children, they aren’t going to have the time to teach academics properly. If a child doesn’t have a stable and supportive home environment, how is he supposed to learn? If I were worried about daddy hitting mommy, I don’t think I’d be able to focus on math.

I’m not sure what the solution is. A decent school budget would certainly help, but it’s not going to solve the problem. Until more parents step up and take responsibility for their children’s education, even if it’s just in supporting the schools by making sure their children are fed and do their homework, the educational system is bound to stay broken. Unfortunately, there will always be parents who don’t care, and therein lies the problem. And that makes me very sad for their children.

What do you think? Will money solve our public education problem? Will anything solve it?