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April 10, 2018 > Editorial: Education, root of democracy

Editorial: Education, root of democracy

Teacher unrest is an issue in the forefront of news these days but not a new occurrence. Although some may dismiss it as limited and solely a wage issue, disputes of this nature should be viewed as a serious indictment of our civic responsibility. Education is not only the foundation of our future society but a critical, basic building block of democracy. The fundamental premise of mandatory public education is to assure continuation of free and open rational thought, religion and debate for all residents and citizens. Without a basic, universal understanding of the political, moral and historical context of our ethical and political system, leadership falls solely to those who either rise to or seize power by whatever means and subsequently can rule without regard for others; decisions are based solely on selfish desires. Those with dissenting opinions are subject to ridicule, demeaning taunts and suppression. This is the bedrock of totalitarian societies.

Without commitment to the basic necessity of a well-educated public that serves as a thoughtful and vigilant electorate sharing diverse perspectives, our society is not only in imminent danger but comes perilously close to descending into divisive chaos and a brutal, dictatorial regime. Those on the front lines of a constant struggle to balance freedom of thought and action with law and order are our teachers Ð at all levels of education. Money, prestige and power should be earned by them and, subsequently, accorded to all educators; we cannot build a strong nation and world with a selective and therefore weak foundation of primary schools. Our political lives and future depend on a strong, well-compensated, highly educated and motivated cadre of educators.

In a fast-changing world, filled with new ideas, innovations and technology, a poorly prepared team of teachers will only retard the growth and creativity of our youth. The term Òbest and brightestÓ is often applied by politicians to those selected for leadership positions but must be applied to our teachers as well. We should not only expect but demand and reward primary and secondary level teachers in accordance with their prime importance to continuation of our way of life. It is shocking to hear about the disregard for standards and compensation in many sections of our country, state and communities that has led to ignorance, intolerance and emotional detachment from reality. The chaos and revolt within and outside the education community is a signal that cannot be ignored.

As a result, there should be and can be a revolutionary adjustment of teacher standards accompanied by significant pay increases along with the idea of sabbatical leave for all educators Ð not just university professors - to revive their own expertise and vigor. Teaching is a tough profession and requires skillful, knowledgeable and professional strength to meet the demands of children and their world. While basic values need to be preserved, the advent of a digital and virtual revolution and its fast pace must be matched by a blend of relevance and basic, time-tested principles.

There is no more political sector of our community than education. It is infused in personal living rooms, public classrooms and social interaction Ð that is where we learn to receive and interpret information, then respond in appropriate ways. Without the formal and informal guidance of parents, institutions and civil organizations, the concept of ÒusÓ dissolves into ÒIÓ and ÒmeÓ without controls. LetÕs work to elevate our schools Ð public and private Ð to the highest community status and demand that respect, support and compensation become and remain as the number one priority to ensure continuation of our way of life.

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