Political persuasions and the independent

Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, September 14, 2004

By Staff
Sonya Rogers
Whether society chooses to accept the fact or not, children are no doubt, the future of our country. As a result, it is vital that we adults make it our intention to ensure that "ALL" children are given an equal and adequate opportunity to learn skills that will promote good citizenship and higher learning. We must also make sure that the appropriate tools are provided that will make young people lifelong learners. By properly educating our young people, the benefits should be truly reaped by society.
What are some of the consequences for turning out generations of uneducated children? One only needs to look across the globe at third world nations that are struggling with increasing populations and decreasing resources. Basically, a lack of education leads to illiteracy, unemployment, and increased crime. These epidemics, unfortunately, affect everyone. Consider the financial burden that a country must assume in order to provide health care to those who cannot afford it. What would happen to statistics of teen pregnancy if teen education programs did not exist? What are the costs of taking care of our nation's unwanted children (who deserve a better life)? Think about how much it costs to incarcerate a criminal in one of our nation's already overcrowded prisons? How can the United States manage these societal problems and implement programs to prevent them from occurring?
One obvious answer is "education!" It might cost an average of $18,000 each year to keep an inmate in prison. Compare this to the average expenditure of $7,000 per student per year for a public education. The tricky part is…prisons are not required to test each inmate each year to determine if he or she is truly learning a lesson. Yet, public schools are! In addition, inmates cannot transfer from an unsafe prison to one that is safe. However, public school students can transfer for reasons based on safety. With a plethora of mandates associated with public education, why does it seem that education is grossly under-financed?
One of the first people to suggest that the "quality" of education is related to its funding was Charles Benson. In regards to public education, financing is guaranteed, to an extent, by the property taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes of some states. In addition, the federal government assists by contributing seven percent of its budget to education. Some people believe that in terms of education, "You get what you pay for." In respect to funding, however, illiteracy, unemployment, and an unqualified workforce can doom a nation to poverty and crime.
Albert Einstein once defined "insanity" as "doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results." Education should be rewarded for the number of artists, musicians, scholars, and even politicians who have reached their goals in life after obtaining a quality education. Personally, I do believe education is an investment in the future. Therefore, it is imperative that our schools remain on the cutting edge of technology, knowledge, and information. Students must be taught content and reasoning.
Education must lead the way for a productive society. George Bernard Shaw once said, "I am not a teacher; only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead- ahead of myself as well as of you." Therefore, in order to produce effective leaders of tomorrow, society must provide the resources that public schools need which will aid in offering a quality education to our future leaders. If you believe education is an investment in human capital, then like any other investment, you might admit that its returns can directly reflect its income.
Sonya Rogers is an independent columnist for the Atmore Advance and reports on educational issues. She may be reached by e-mail at newsroom@atmoreadvance.com

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