To The Daily Sun,
I sat through two graduation speeches this year, one college and one high school. The longer I reflected on the keynote speaker’s words, the more I realized their message was more about themselves than it was providing hope, encouragement, strength and confidence to the young people about to enter a very different phase of their lives, and I was greatly saddened. Our students must believe in themselves, they must have hope and they must be encouraged to use their God-given capabilities to create a future. For some of the students that day, the fact that they were graduating at all was equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest. What was next for them?
As Americans, we should be greatly concerned about our children’s education. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development administers the Program of International Student Assessment, which assesses the math, science and reading skills of 15-year-olds in 72 countries. In 2019, students in our country ranked 13th in reading, 18th in science and 37th in math. How can we possibly be helping our students to fully develop their skills, essential skills in all walks of life, in these areas? How? We tried with “Common Core” but that led to teaching for the test. In the last few years we have taken away the recognition of working hard to achieve the highest GPA and many schools are no longer teaching their advanced courses. At the other end of the spectrum we discontinued teaching home economics and shop. Today, are we giving our children hope, are we encouraging them to believe that they can succeed, that they have the strength to achieve their dreams? Are we helping them develop the skills and knowledge to be confident? For that child who barely made the requirements for graduation, did we provide any tools he could use to further his dreams of a future? Teaching our children to love one another, to respect each other, to help each other achieve their highest potential is critical. Throughout their school years we must help develop essential skills to the individual’s fullest, and provide the necessary tools for them to do so.
There are some who think it’s most urgent to teach them they live in a country that is systemically racist; that they have no hope because of their skin color. The simple fact is, that while we are all created equal, those two cells that combined created an individual with individual talents and capabilities. We were created in individual circumstances that undoubtedly change over time. We should be doing everything in our power to help our children reach their desires with the potential that is within them. They do not owe us to follow our dreams, otherwise we doom them to failure. America has struggled but America continues to overcome the disparities; we should laud those achievements not dismiss them. We should remember the words of Martin Luther King, not dismiss them as no longer relevant.