|by Audrey Chubb
I was motivated to run for the Riverton USD 404 School Board after learning the plight of education in our country. Our educational system is in a state of crisis. Twenty years ago the United States was number one in education around the world. Now we are ranked 33 out of 37 countries in reading, 27 out of 37 in math and 22 out of 37 in science. International test scores for 2009 show Shanghai leading in math and South Korea leading in reading. Our educational system has been "dummied down." As a result we are not preparing our children for the world of today, let alone tomorrow. For the first time in history this generation is less educated than the generation before!
Recently released statistics from the military show that nearly one in four students are failing their entrance exam which includes questions regarding basic math, science and reading. Pentagon data shows that 75% of those aged 17 to 24 donít even qualify to take the exam because they did not graduate high school, are physically unfit, or have a criminal record. This poses concern for our countryís national security as the military pool shrinks.
Dale Dennis, deputy commissioner for the Kansas State Department of Education, said federal stimulus dollars this school year provided K-12 education with $199 million, but that will be gone as of this July. Part of those stimulus dollars were used to fund the stateís formula for base aid per pupil, which is projected to fall to its lowest level in a decade next year. The funding formula projects $3,780 per pupil for 2011-2012, which is 15 percent less than the $4,400 the state provided to districts for the 2008-2009 school year. These cuts take us back to 1999-2000 in terms of base state aid per pupil when the state sent schools $3,770 per student. (Joplin Globe)
The No Child Left Behind program has left our nation behind. The state and federal government mandate standards but the elected school board sets policy, curriculum and decisions regarding teachers. They can also set higher expectations for the students, teachers and the superintendent of the district. Students should be allowed to progress according to their ability levels, rather than be bound by their grade levels. Doing so would raise student achievement. Students need to be challenged more and not just handed a diploma they have not earned.
At a time when our education system is broken and we are failing in reading, math and science, we need to do the Right Thing, Keeping Students First (www.studentsfirst.org), having good teachers in every classroom, spending dollars where they matter most and eliminating programs that are not working. Involvement and empowerment of the parents and community is paramount to a successful solution for the crises in our education system. All parties must be willing to participate and make it better. In regard to ineffective teachers, I believe we need to improve or remove them.
Schools need to right the balance in the athletics-academics equation with the Sports Done Right Initiative that strives to achieve academic and athletic excellence. Every student needs to be physically fit, to be taught lifetime skills to remain physically active. Physical education programs in schools offer the best opportunity to provide physical activity to all children and to teach them the skills and knowledge needed for a fit lifestyle, especially considering high childhood obesity rates.
But, schools cannot afford to bow to the pressure of a sports crazed society. While I understand that sports bring political and financial support to schools, especially in small towns where sports define a community, athletic interests should not prevail over academic needs. We need to be advocates for all children, not just the fraction of students in the district who play varsity sports.
If you want to be a critic of the education system, you must be willing to participate and make it better. It is time to make schools in America number one again in academics--reading, math and science. FIRST opens doors and opportunity follows, FIRST moves us forward. It is time to reform and reset our educational system, one school at a time and that includes Riverton USD 404!
Chubb's background: Regarding Riverton USD 404, her father, aunts, and uncles are first generation graduates (1936-1956); she is a second generation student (1963-73); her children, Aaron and Carrie Neet are third generation graduates (1996 and 2002) and are PSU alumni. Currently, she has two nieces and a nephew that attend Riverton Schools. In 1975 she graduated from Washington High School in Kansas City, KS and also was a graduate of KCK Area Vocational Technical School where she attained her practical nursing education through a gifted program for high school seniors. In 1978 she obtained her associate's degree in nursing at KCK Community College and in 1980 she attended Research Medical Center in Kansas City, MO, obtaining national certification in critical care in 1981. She graduated Cum Laude in 1993 from Labette Community College and holds an associate's degree in history and in 1994 completed her bachelor's degree in social science with honors at Pittsburg State University where she was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha and Alpha Kappa Delta. From 2008 to 2010 Chubb completed 24 courses in emergency management. She was awarded certification and 13.0 IACET/CEUís (130 hours) by the Emergency Management Institute in conjunction with FEMA and the US Department of Homeland Security. Included in those courses were the Professional Development Series and Emergency Planning for Schools and Hospitals. Now retired from nursing, she resides in Galena, KS.