Education call to arms
May 18, 2011
A growing number of news services are reporting on the dire and desperate conditions that our nation’s schools are facing in providing high-quality and continuously-advancing, state-of-the-art education. America’s schools and their students, our children, are losing the battle. This is just the tip of the iceberg of a growing national emergency, a very loud and clear “call to arms”.
There is nothing more critically important than education to our nation’s future. Everything that is America today, our phenomenal advancement in technology and our high standard of living, has its powerful roots in our educational system and home-grown imagination, creativity and innovation.
Major developing issues facing America, including our deteriorating infrastructure and destructive impacts of world climate change, demand premier excellence in technical education to understand and resolve.
Our children are in very serious trouble. We must demand and require premier excellence in American education, to always be the very best on Earth, being second to no other country. We cannot and must not accept anything less. This will require the direct involvement and a major culture change by all Americans.
Proficiency and mastery of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education by American students has become deplorable, horribly destructive to our nation’s future economy and security. Increasing numbers of students are not taking mentally-challenging STEM courses, or do not have access to exciting and rigorous STEM curriculum and enhanced hands-on STEM activities. Internationally, U.S. students rank 17th in science and 25th in mathematics. America’s future is extremely bleak unless we take very firm and decisive action immediately to rapidly reverse this situation.
It has been expressed repeatedly that American students must become “critical thinkers”. But, for over 30 years American adults have not been demonstrating our own critical thinking when it comes to our children’s education. It is time for all Americans to openly recognize and address the reality that we have been creating new generations of students who are being ignored, misguided and discarded, starting at home, where critical thinking and support must begin.
We can no longer continue passing the full responsibility of our children’s education solely to our schools as we have done for 50 years. It is imperative that American communities must become directly involved in guiding and promoting excellence in our schools and providing much needed enhanced and rigorous STEM educational opportunities.
America’s recent educational idea of “No Child Left Behind” has brutally become “America Left Behind and Out in the Cold”. Our academically-gifted students have become ignored and forgotten, as we have tried to shove every student into a one-size-fits-all education, resulting in severe national mediocrity in education, dramatically reducing the ability of high-achieving students to move forward quickly and receive the superior education they vitally need and must have, to achieve, succeed and become the future leaders of our nation.
A May 15th CNN TV program “Education in America: Don’t Fail Me”, based on the exciting hands-on and minds-on international U.S FIRST Robotics student STEM education competition program, squarely hit the target dead center. Its very moving, sobering and powerful message is that we must make urgent and dramatic improvements in our schools, especially STEM education, beginning firmly in elementary school. America is rapidly losing the educational and economic competition with other countries, which will have major, destructive impacts on our ability to advance and survive.
The message is beginning to be heard from Paso Robles to Lompoc. A first-ever, grassroots event on May 24th, the Central Coast STEM Education Forum, will bring together 100 top leaders in education, business, government and non-profit STEM education organizations. This already “sold-out” event will attempt to recognize and understand our children’s educational challenges, brainstorm ways of making improvements, and strongly promote the development of community collaboration and partnerships to significantly enhance STEM education inside and outside of our schools.
Community involvement and support is a key element to making this new effort become reality. If you wish to learn more about and become involved in supporting this effort, please contact the Endeavour Institute and the Discovery Institute of SLO .
Walter Reil was a member and president of the Atascadero Education Foundation supporting K-12 performing arts and STEM education public outreach, including designing and chairing the installation of a hands-on STEM education laboratory in the Monterey Road Elementary School.