School registration begins next Monday and classes begin Aug. 14.
That's right. School's here. Parents, you can hold your applause.
You also need to get out you wallet, because one thing a free public education isn't is free. From school supplies to new outfits to fees for classes and extra-curricular activities, it's a tough time on the family wallet. But ultimately, it's worth it, and you can't really put a price on a good education. Getting a good education, however, requires a bunch of factors coming together.
First, the legislature needs to fund public education. A lot of these fees you're paying today came about in response to cuts in educational funding by the state over the years. Even when, in some years, the funding was restored, the fees stayed. Today, they help keep some programs, educational and extra-curricular, alive.
And on top of that, almost every school district in the state has had to ask voters for an emergency levy just to keep their heads above water. That's directly due to a lack of support by the legislature, which prefers to send your tax dollars to semi-private education (charter schools). Frankly, education in Idaho wasn't broken until Tom Luna and the legislature decided to fix it.
So, the legislature needs to make a serious financial commitment to schools, and cut loose all the strings they've attached to it in favor of the local school districts deciding how best to use the money to teach our children. Most importantly, they need to release money for more teachers so student-teacher ratios get down to a point where teachers can actually work one-on-one with their students.
Second, there needs to be a commitment by parents to monitor their child's learning. That means spending time helping them with their homework, working with them to help them understand what they're being taught and stressing to them the importance of a good education. In today's world, even a high school diploma isn't really adequate. Learning is a lifelong experience and we should get our children excited about learning. Attitude goes a long way toward success.
Finally, because the world changes so fast these days, we need to teach our children not only basic facts, but the ability to understand those facts and the ability to self-learn. Having knowledge is one thing. Being able to apply it is something else. But the future will require that we be constantly learning new things and be able to understand and apply them. Failure to keep up is a recipe for disaster.
So school is here again. Once more, the future beckons. Now, if we can just put all the pieces together....
-- Kelly Everitt