Many public schools around the nation are observing American Education Week this week, an observance dedicated to celebrating our nation's public school system.
America's public schools are currently under severe scrutiny and receiving a great deal of criticism. Unsatisfactory student achievement and high dropout rates are only two of the complaints being voiced about our schools.
This is nothing new, of course. Back in the 1950s, the nation was asking “Why Johnny Can't Read,” and around 1940, when the Greatest Generation was graduating, one study of college students lambasted America's schools for poorly educating that generation.
America's schools do, of course, have shortcomings, and every institution does. Those shortcomings need to be addressed, and educators are working hard to address them.
But it is important to remember that our public schools are a reflection of our society, and American culture doesn't always value or respect education. Politicians, for example, are fond of campaigning against the educated “elite” as being at odds with the common people.
Fortunately, the Powell community does value education, and the community demonstrates that value through the support it provides to the schools.
Active parent groups at the elementary level provide important support for younger students. The Powell Schools Foundation provides general support, and other organizations, such as the Powell Roundtable, Powell Music Boosters and FFA parents, boost specific programs. Businesses provide work experience and welcome students for job shadowing as well as donations to specific causes.
That support is vital, because it demonstrates to students that their community believes their education is important.
In the end, learning the importance of education may be the most important lesson students learn in school. Our world is changing, and it is impossible for the schools to totally prepare students for jobs and situations that no one has even envisioned yet.
What is possible is to instill in those students a belief in themselves and their ability to learn, and to provide them with the tools to re-educate themselves when that unforeseen future arrives and makes it necessary.
That's the real business of schools, and they require community support of education to make it happen. The Powell community does provide such support, and Powell people are to be commended for it.