Friday, September 23, 2011

Times Have Changed: Forward thinking strategies for educational excellence

A great perspective from Crystal Jones Young on the direction our education should be going in light of a new and changing world. Crystal is the mother of 10 children, she has taken her God given responsibility to educate her children seriously and utilized a wide combination of strategies on a child by child basis. She has children in collage, enrolled in public school, and home-schooled simultaneously.


Governor Heineman and Senator Ashford have done, with the best of intentions, what they believed was in the best interest of the good people of this state when they wrote, supported, and passed Nebraska new attendance laws. The difficulty is that this truancy legislation has made it impossible for parents to take advantage of educational opportunities available with today’s technology or to take any excursions with their family during school hours.

Crystal's Daughters
Our family is already in trouble with only a month of school. My children missed the first two days of school – we all chose to attend a week of the best youth speakers in the nation receiving hour after hour of motivational speeches on responsible lifestyles, education and setting life goals. My daughter has since requested I pull her out the last 3 days of school. She is the only junior in three of her classes and the seniors will be gone. She doesn’t want to be in school sitting alone doing busy work. Should I advocate my child’s education and take her out of school?

Personally I think that the truancy legislation is not forward thinking, I doubt even parents know and even fewer legislators know how much times have changed offering rich educational opportunities outside the classroom. After all Steve Jobs has changed America with the ipad and latest generation iphone so that now, one can remotely park his car from the phone. One can also remotely access any classroom in the nation with the best teachers and most cutting edge information.

Just this last week my daughter wrote a children’s book in her history class then read that book to the kindergarteners over Skype. Presence in a classroom is not the only way to provide kids with a quality education. Even colleges are realizing that to make their graduates employable, they need to be out of the classroom and in the field. Many senior graduate programs require a jobsite rotation. In all fairness school districts know this too. That is why we have field trips/ guest speakers, and excursions across the nation for FBLA, debate teams, marching band trips and sporting events.

Crystal's Daughters
The Truancy Laws (LB800 and 463) take a step back in time and attempt to put everyone in a box, a one size fits all format for education stripping the students of any autonomy. They say they want us to be competitive and innovative in education, well I don’t see it. Now more than ever our kids are required to sit in a classroom or become a criminal.

What Governor Heineman and Senator Ashford could do is catch up with the times. School Districts in the nation are allowing children to go to school for “A days” and stay at home for “B days.” Charter schools are giving parents complete say in what they teach and where. In addition they will chip in $300 per child toward educational materials. They are counted as a warm body filling a seat in a classroom the children will never see. That is the new education that supports families and increases enrolment and the bankroll of these states.

Children are enrolled with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and attend high school classes ala cart. It is magnificent. Parents get to have children take the classes most beneficial to them, the district gets a warm body, and bored students can cut to the chase and get the education they need to be successful in their life. The schools serve them instead of becoming just another prison in our compulsory education system.

Times have changed. Perhaps most Nebraskans don’t realize that there are countless roads to success in life and not all of them flow down the same conveyer belt model we are building in our state. It would shock some people to learn that you don’t even need a High School diploma to go to college. A good ACT score and initiative will do the job. Neither do kids need to be in the classroom constantly to learn. And the school system still gets money when parents are empowered.

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