Thursday, May 20, 2010

Real World Issue: The Challenges of Education Across the US and in Our Back Yard

A Call to Action

This blog is always about celebrating the learner in our children, with a focus on literacy.  Now more than ever, that's important as budget cuts on the federal and state (down to the local level) loom everywhere.  In my hometown of Huntsville, AL school boards are cutting teacher jobs, limiting resources, at a time when education is more important than ever.  I don't often get on the "political channel", especially on the blog, but there are decisions being made in Washington that impact our children, our educational system from top to bottom, the future of this country's role in contributing to society.

As parents and family members, we have a role.  Please, while we have a time-sensitive opportunity, take time this week to do two things:

1) Read with your child or a child you know.  If we are to support classrooms and teachers, we must be involved in our children's learning.  Reading a book together (with little ones) or sharing some form of text (from the virtual or print worlds) with our older, more independent readers is critical.   If we all do a bit of that each day, our children receive nurturing layers of literacy.  They begin to believe that it is a good thing to be a reader and writer AND a thinker.

2) Let your federal representatives in Congress know that you believe education is a priority.  An education amendment has been added to the pending jobs bill which can be a part of the solution.  Taking action this week, as they are debating and deciding on this amendment and this bill can make a difference.  It's easy to do. 

Visit the education jobs bill link on the NEA website to let your voice be heard.  This will send a message to your representatives in Washington.  If you want to know more about the contents of this bill, visit NEA's Education Votes resource website.

Take it one step further and share this link or forward a link to this blog to friends, family and community members who share your concern and interest.  Only five minutes of your time can make a difference!

3) Elections will be here before you know it.  Find the resources in your community that will make you an informed voter so you can elect individuals who believe in the importance of education and are willing to stand for it.  A little reading ourselves from a variety of sources (so we get the real story, not one invented by a master marketing guru to win votes) is all it takes.  Talking with those who are campaigning in your community is another way to get to the truth and identify those who will promote this important agenda.  Whether it is individuals running for state superintendent, governor or a local position, vote for people that echo your voice, especially when it comes to children. 

Finally, let your children see you in this process.  Share books on the political process with your children.  Christopher Hitchens wrote an excellent biography of Thomas Jefferson that high school students and young adults will enjoy  and The Federalist Papers  was recently released on Kindle.  Online, there is an excellent short article from the National Academy of Public Administration on the importance of helping our children, especially as they themselves move toward voting age, to understand how the process works.

Thanks for taking time to read and share this blog.  I look forward to hearing from you about what you are doing in your own community to draw attention to this important, timely issue.