AAUW: Education is the Silver Bullet

When Ann Roe of Custom College Solutions visited our General Meeting in March, it was enlightening and somewhat astonishing to learn just how tough it is to apply to some colleges. Excellent grades and an impressive list of extracurricular activities as well as quantities of cash may no longer be enough. One of the top universities requires 11 separate essays to accompany the application. But then, statistics show that about 48% of college graduates don’t use their degrees in their present occupation and are ‘underemployed’. So where does that leave us?

Nelson Mandela, striving to bring a peaceful transition to The Republic of South Africa, understood that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The basic right to an education has long been a hallmark of the United States. Through the centuries, immigrants to this country were justly proud that their children and grandchildren could read and write. 2014 has become a year of benchmarks and controversy in education as many school districts in the U.S. adopt The Common Core State Standards Initiative, or Common Core designed to prepare high school graduates for either “higher education or direct entry into the workforce.” The Common Core was put together by educators and those experienced in curriculum design and assessment.

A good concept, a simple concept, well constructed with professional input from across the nation- so why the controversy? A quick overview provides protests such as “one size fits all” education.

backtyoschool;Professor Diego Navarro form the ACE in Santa Cruz, CA did extensive research and found that “integrating affective-based learning, which focuses on students’ attitudes, mindsets, and emotions, plays a critical role in how well students perform in the classroom.” In Florida, Common Core has been adopted, but in one county, the money for testing and support materials in “unavailable”. In addition, ‘shop’ classes, art, and music are being removed from schools for lack of funds and relevance. There are over 600,000 jobs unfilled in this country for lack of skilled tradesmen. Are we directing our students toward U-Rock and Blackhawk, here in Janesville or just into the hard sciences? Who keeps the hardscape, the infrastructure going in this country? Not sure I want a financial analyst putting the roof on my house. I absolutely know I want an EMT when the ambulance pulls up and not an English major.

“Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes. We need gigantic monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be getting six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense.”

Sam Seaborn, West Wing -Aaron Sorkin (author)

So where do we go from here? The AAUW mission requires advocacy and research as well as education. Let me suggest we step back into the classroom. Do your homework. Do the research. Vote with an informed opinion. It is for you, it is for all of us, it is for those who come after, that we create the ability to follow a dream.

Education is the silver bullet!

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