Schools are a hot topic these days. Discussions about money and vouchers and poor test scores are everywhere. Considering how important children are, it's easy to see why everyone is so up in arms.
Obviously there are no easy solutions, but I think we still have hope. We will have to tighten our belts and work hard. That shouldn't be a problem, we're Iowans, nobody can do hard work better than us, and nobody has more of the self-discipline needed to wade through trying times.
Our schools are having difficulty. They don't have the money for proper operation and they aren't being as effective as we require. I've heard several people say that we should treat them like a business, if they fail we close them down and let someone else take their place. I disagree with that stand.
What do I think we should do? Let's use the business analogy again. If we treat schools like business, we can't close them because we still need their product and we are all shareholders. If we close them, we, as shareholders, lose everything. The competition may not be as friendly as we like.
If any other business falls on hard times, they don't immediately close up shop. They reorganize to strengthen themselves. They tighten their budget, they take care of their employees and they focus on their core product.
Tightening the budget in the school system is something I think we have already done in Iowa. We've never really been that extravagant and, with the recent budgetary woes, we've pared off all the excess we can. I don't think budget tightening is going to save us. We do need to keep up the good work that has been done in this matter.
Taking care of the employees is the next thing. Our teachers are important. We need to keep them as happy as possible. We must show them the proper amount of respect and thank them for sacrificing really profitable careers for teaching. We must also realize that they need to eat. Let's make sure that we are doing all that we can to make teachers happy.
Getting back to the core product is where we can have the most impact. Our children are going to have to compete in an expanding world economy. They will need communications skills and reasoning skills. Communications skills are reading, writing, and speech. Math and formal logic make up the reasoning skills. I'm not saying that we need to do away with the other subjects that kids study, I want us to focus.
The ability to communicate will help our kids learn other things more effectively. They will be able to find more knowledge and express themselves better. If they can read and understand what they read, teaching other subjects happens more efficiently. On top of all of this, we have people leaving the state to go to information technology jobs elsewhere when we can create those jobs here. Communication skills are the key to our future Iowans doing business at home.
Math and formal logic are also important. Math allows our children to handle the more abstract parts of life in a quantifiable way. Formal logic is the main ingredient in understanding those complex facts. Again, learning these subjects well will allow our children to learn other subjects more efficiently, thus reducing the expense of teaching those other subjects.
Logic has another good effect. Children who are taught how to recognize logic errors committed by others are safer from media hype, advertising, and political babble. They won't be swept up in every little craze that shows up. They will not be torn down by advertisements that suggest that our kids are insufficient as they are. Our children can defend themselves against those who would take advantage of them.
Other subjects still need to be taught, history, sociology, art, and so forth. Sometimes, they can be combined with the primary lessons. For example, it is logical to prevent pollution and it is illogical to hate someone based on cultural differences.
About the only other thing that can help our schools would be to place an emphasis on self-esteem based on real effort. It should not be enough that a child participate, but they must participate to the best of their ability. This applies to which ever endeavors the child applies him or herself. This type of encouragement leads to real confidence and self-esteem that will prop up the child when the harsher parts of life try to knock him down.