Educating Our Youth
What greater or better gift can we offer the republic than to teach and instruct our youth?
- Cicero, 106-43 B.C.E
The United States is a great nation, the most powerful and the wealthiest ever. Why then, when it comes to educational achievement, is our nation ranked near the bottom of a list of the world’s wealthiest nations – number 18 of 24 countries?
And why is Georgia ranked last among the 50 states in Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) average scores? It’s not that Americans don’t spend enough on education. We spend billions – a percentage of our national income that’s about the same as the average for the 23 other wealthy nations surveyed. Yet, again, we rank number 18 in educational achievement. And Georgia, in fact, spends more per pupil than 10 other southern states, all of which post SAT average scores higher than ours. So, why do we lag behind – as a nation and a state?
Maybe it’s partly because we’re spending more of our money– but investing less of our time and ourselves – in educating our nation’s children. Many of us are terribly busy just getting by. Others are preoccupied with demanding careers, as well as the hectic pace and unprecedented prosperity of life today. Flight from the urban center is another factor. When affluent families move from cities to suburbs, they often leave behind less-affl uent families – and fewer human and financial resources for city schools. Affluent families who choose to live in the city often send their children to private schools, further depriving public schools of vital resources.
Clearly, the challenge of educating our children today is too complex for simple analysis and easy answers. Yet, educators and communities nationwide are implementing effective solutions that address specific needs in specific places. While such successes offer a host of ideas for many other communities, one message is quite clear: As citizens of this great nation, as residents of various communities, and as members of diverse faith traditions, we must act.
Reprinted with the permission of Faith and The City. © 2000-2003 FATC
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