on Priorities

Last week I wrote about how our political and educational leaders seem to still think that throwing money at a problem will always fix the problem, when there is enough evidence to prove the contrary. Many schools, especially private and homeschooled, seem to do much more with less, and their students still excel. So what is the missing link? What is it that leads to educational excellence in some schools, profound failure in others, and mediocre results in the rest? Perhaps it is not a question about money at all, but about priorities. Is education still the priority of our public school system? Or have outside influences pushed it aside in favor of something else?

While how much money a school spends does not necessarily point to student success, where that money is spent can certainly indicate if the school priority is on turning out smart, independent and self-assured kids. Our school district should not only be teaching academics, but modeling responsible behavior, which is something that goes way beyond book learning. Children watch the adults of influence in their lives, and will mimic the behaviors they see as they grow to adulthood. And since schools have more time with kids than their parents do, it is important that we pay attention to what the adults there are teaching, whether they are aware or not.

Do we see those adults teaching our children to prioritize play over knowledge, to rely on debt instead of savings, or to seek immediate gratification over prudent delay? If so, what kind of adults do you think our children will grow up to be? Will they be wise, financially stable, assertive, responsible and independent? Or will they struggle with finances, rely on (or demand that) others to take care of them, be undone by life’s hardships, and be subservient to those with greater life knowledge than they? How do we benefit our kids by teaching them that present pleasure is more important than doing what it takes to excel and sacrifice for the future?

Take for instance my own school district. This September our school seeks to raise taxes in order to go another $4 million in debt (in addition to the $4 million they already have) to do another build, 2/3 of which is dedicated towards athletics. 1/3 of the project will go towards the replacement of modular classrooms, however keep in mind that those have a life span of up to 25 years and were just installed 6 years ago to the tune of $185,000. Do you think that in this we are showing the kids that the priority here is good education? Are we teaching them wise stewardship of both money and things, be it with theirs or another’s? Will they learn the importance of saving for what one wants instead of going into massive debt?  Our children are watching us, folks. How well do you think your child will fair in the real world if this is the lesson they learn because the adults in their life chose to model it? Do you know of any adults where a lack of self-control ever worked out well for them?

We are becoming a nation of takers instead of doers because we adults are teaching this exact lesson to our children, both by word and by deed. Instead of learning that hard work and sacrifice lead to a more stable and self-reliant future, adults have learned to childishly live in the present, where play, pleasure and expecting others to pay their way is the expectation. Is this what you want for your kids, or worse, to be done to your kids? Or do you want something better for them? I would think that your priority is that your children go to school to gain knowledge, understanding, grow in maturity, and learn that the realities of life sometimes require sacrifice (which build strength and character) in order to prepare for the future. If so, then it’s time to speak up for your kids, not only privately but publically. It’s time to make the priorities of your school district line up with what the original intent for public schools was to be: education. Only when parents get involved will your priorities for your children’s future become the priorities for the school. Political leaders have an agenda, as does the educational establishment. More than likely it does not match yours. You work hard and sacrifice both emotionally and financially for your kids. Don’t let it be undone by those who don’t love your children like you do. Get involved.

This September 10th you will also have a chance to make your voice heard at the ballot box. Will you support the destructive status quo of debt and those that push for it, or will you instead model for your children what wise stewardship looks like, and teach them to vote for leaders who practice the same?

** more details on the bond, its term, and property tax impact will be shared in a future article *

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