Education needs help
from whole community
We are living through challenging times educationally, politi- cally and economically. Because the survival of our nation is at risk, public education in the United States should be everyone's business now.
» If we expect to maintain our democratic way of life, all children of this nation must be educated. Ninety percent of our young people attend the public schools of America. Regardless of their national origin, religious beliefs or economic status, all students have the right to a free public education in this country. Public education is the great equalizing force that gives everyone a chance to pursue personal happiness.
» Nationally, we currently have a great shortage of qualified teachers in the public schools. To remedy the situation, teacher salaries need to be commensurate with their training. Parents need to teach their children to be more respectful of their teachers, and every child needs to enter school ready to learn. Society needs to give more recognition and tangible rewards to show appreciation for their educators. All stakeholders in public education -- including community people, legislators, Board of Education and parents -- need to support public education. When students can see that all groups really care about their education gains, they will strive harder for academic excellence and no child will be left behind.
» We also need to be aware that all children learn from different teaching strategies and styles. Some learn quickly, while other students take longer. Other students need more accommodations because of certain learning disabilities. In addition, some students come from broken homes, abusive environments and the drug culture. In the public schools we are charged with teaching all the students -- the students of the world.
» To bring about positive educational reform swiftly, we all must participate in the political process. Although the "No Child Left Behind Law" was passed in 2002, the U.S. Congress only partially funded this program. Contact your Congress members and convince them to provide full funding immediately for NCLB. Legislative mandates passed without the necessary resources are meaningless. Elect people to public office who are willing to support public education. Support legislators who will enact laws to benefit and champion public educational issues. Hold accountable those who represent us in the state Legislature and Congress. Even further, plan to run for public office. Of the 50 states, many have limited resources and need federal support for their individual states. State leaders, members of Congress and the president must work in concert to create laws that give every child in America the best education possible.
» Teachers have been instrumental in advocating for quality public education. They work tirelessly on your behalf and have accepted the role of being surrogate parents for your children. We need a paradigm shift in this country to vigorously bring about positive changes to attract new teachers and maintain those we have now. The successful leaders and shakers of our nation that include doctors, housewives, professional athletes, business executives and entertainers need to remember that they were nurtured under the tutelage of caring and dedicated teachers. They need to remember the caring teacher who sacrificed and worked hard to make certain their students would become successful in life.
» Our democratic way of life is dependent on how well we educate the youth of America. The future of our society depends on a strong, vibrant public school system. Please support the public schools of America now! Who will rise to the challenge? If not you, who will? If you enjoy working and helping young people, consider entering the teaching profession. We need teachers desperately because we have a critical shortage right now.
Only you can make the positive difference in support of our public schools. If we expect to continue to be the No. 1 country in the world, our future depends ultimately on a solid public school system. That's why public education is everyone's responsibility. On behalf of all the children of the United States of America, I humbly thank you for your kind support of public education.
Robert S.J. Hu is this year's Hawaii State Teacher of the Year and 2004 Horace Mann-National Education Association Teaching Excellence finalist. He teaches American Civics at Mililani High School.